Tag: Will Kennedy

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 8

A TRULY mixed bag of NAB League results in Round 8 saw some teams play above their level and match their more fancied opponents. Plenty of players shone across the weekend, and we cast eyes on each game to provide you with notes on players selected in initial representative squads. Each note is the opinion of the individual author.

Northern Knights vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Michael Alvaro

Northern:

#1 Lachie Potter

It was a typical Lachie Potter game, with the Knights top-ager driving forward well off half-back. Mopping up the loose ball in defensive 50 at speed, Potter constantly looked to round his nearest opponents and boot his side forward with long kicks. While his pace is a clear strength, it worked against him at times as he tried to properly grasp the ball in the back half and fumbled early on. When he did manage to get his hands on it though, Potter often made his Oakleigh opposition look silly as he repeatedly took them and the game on. Could look to lower his eyes more often, with his kicking accuracy compromised as he blazed away, but you wouldn’t want to thwart the instincts of such a natural player.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Was not a massive game from D’Intinosante, but his work rate inside forward 50 and at the coalface in midfield was outstanding. ‘JD’ dug in with repeat efforts and was constantly on the move at stoppages, while also leading smartly when starting forward to be hit up inside 50. His kicking lacks a touch of penetration at times, and D’Intinosante looked wary of that as he looked to find targets closer to goal when others may have had a shot around the arc. While his disposal efficiency was compromised by the amount of contested ball he earned, D’Intinosante usually made good decisions when given time and showed his goal sense despite not finding a major. Took a good overhead mark going back with the flight during the third term, and is certainly a trier.

#7 Ryan Gardner

Playing mostly through the midfield, Gardner was reasonably quiet through the middle stages of the game, but was impactful in a tight final term. Gardner popped up with a couple of nice running clearances and balls inside 50, with one ending in a missed shot on goal. While he could not quite drag his side over the line, Gardner’s work at the forward-half stoppages was great to watch in the final 25 minutes, and showed plenty of the promise we saw in his bottom-age year. Was clean at ground level and bided his time well in traffic, while also cashing in with a goal from a 50-metre penalty in the third term.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Sturgess is as reliable as they come, constantly providing an outlet option in the back half and positioning himself well to intercept. Those traits boded well for his role of sweeping up across half-back, with his efficient kicking also ensuring he was trusted with kick-in duties. Took on a slightly different role in the second half as Oakleigh threw co-captain Dylan Williams forward, with Sturgess the obvious match-up for him. While Williams would boot two crucial goals and trouble Sturgess with his athleticism, the Knights defender was unlucky to concede one of them with a free kick as the two tussled one-out. Was unlucky as Williams assisted another goal too, with Sturgess left to mark two Chargers players inside 50, and coming off his man to very nearly stop the move altogether. Not a bad outing, and continues to be one of Northern’s most consistent.

#13 Sam Philp

Philp was the standout Knight on the day and is an absolute bull in the midfield. The contested-ball machine won most of his 28 possessions himself, and pushed his side forward with nine clearances. Did well to get involved outside of the stoppages at both ends when running through midfield, and accumulated nicely across the day. Would spend time forward in the second and third terms, but found the goals with a clutch set shot conversion in the fourth quarter after moving back into the middle. Looks increasingly composed on the ball, but can sharpen up his kicking.

#27 Ewan Macpherson

By no means a huge accumulator, but Macpherson looks a tidy player. Has found his spot in the back six now after a slow start to the season and is usually a neat user, finding a good amount of ball at ground level. Positions well in defence and as a smaller player, is starting to pressure more. Looks a different type of player to his brother, Darcy, and is starting to adapt.

Oakleigh:

#5 Trent Bianco

Bianco was down on his usual numbers, and struggled to break through with the run and carry we have come to expect from midfield. Still by no means had a bad game, winning 17 disposals and having 10 tackles to show his work rate at the stoppages. The Oakleigh co-captain almost found the goals with a snap and set shot attempt, but also spent some time on the outer of the arc as Oakleigh looked to lock it in. Was employed off half-back at times too as he hoped to find more space, and provided his usual rebound from there.

#6 Jeromy Lucas

The GWS Academy product accumulated well throughout the game, and started brightly with a sharp kick forward as he carved a run through midfield. Lucas moved onto the wing as Oakleigh looked for more outside run, but he looked to be a bit down on confidence after missing a few kicks and being caught holding the ball. Lucas went to ground on occasion with opponents nipping at his heels, but still managed to find the ball and looked better with his disposal by hand. Has the potential to provide more damaging kicks, as showcased by another neat find going inside 50 during the final term, but he was a touch inconsistent in that area on the day. A solid outing.

#23 Dylan Williams

The Oakleigh co-captain proved a match-winner as he moved forward in the second half, and always makes defenders wary of his presence. Starting off half-back as he increasingly does, Williams showed his smarts with some good positioning to intercept a couple of errand Northern kicks forward. Williams was provided with plenty of instruction when he came to the bench and is clearly still adapting to the new role, with his clear skill and smoothness on the ball carrying him through. He is so effective one-on-one and creative forward of centre, so it was no surprise that he made an immediate impact when moved forward. Almost created a goal with a beautifully weighted left-foot kick inside 50, but later found the first goal of the final term as he marked on the behind line. Got out the back smartly to provide Thomas Graham with a goal, while garnering enough attention from his direct opponent to win a free kick and boot the deciding six points half-way through the last quarter. So obviously talented, and almost impossible to stop one-out inside forward 50.

#27 Josh May

May was a constant on the wing for Oakleigh, proving most effective by hand in tight situations and driving forward well by foot. Was involved early and stood out with his ability to keep his hands free in tackles, also keeping his feet and flicking the ball out to runners. Laid a nice holding the ball tackle on defensive wing and kicked beautifully inside 50 to Spiros Sklavenitis to cap off a solid first term. While he was a touch quieter in the middle-stages, May came back into the game with another long find going inside 50, and a solid one-on-one mark on the wing to finish off.

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Sandringham Dragons
By: Joe Lee

Bendigo:

#1 Sam Conforti

The silky left footer was reasonably quiet, held to 15 touches. Was in and out of the game but was able to manage 12 kicks and used his disposal effectively. Works hard both ways but was rather subdued by Sandringham’s dominant midfield engine room.

#11 Aaron Gundry

The ruckman finished with 13 disposals and 22 hit-outs, capping off a trying day. Worked hard when thrown both forward and back, the mobile big man moved well around the ground and fought hard against Sandringham’s duel ruck rotation.

#20 James Schischka

The intercepting defender worked tirelessly all day, even managing a goal from his 14-disposal, five-mark effort. Took a nice intercept mark playing as a loose man in the third quarter but was otherwise reasonably quiet for the most part. His highlight of the day was when he intercepted a sloppy kick from Tyson Milne in the goal square, nailing an easy goal to put Bendigo up deep into the final quarter.

#21 Riley Wilson

Playing up forward, Wilson had one play in the dying stages of the fourth quarter where he tackled which resulted in a free kick in the Bendigo back half, setting up the play for a Pioneers goal. Finishing with 23 touches, six tackles and six rebounds, Wilson was a clear standout for the Pioneers, working tirelessly against a strong opposition midfield.

#59 Riley Clarke

The electric forward only had six touches for the day but was a dangerous avenue to goal. Ended up kicking two goals, and Clarke did a number of show-stopping things, including plucking a brilliant one-handed mark on the run. Sprayed a couple of shots on goal but his marking was solid, including taking a hotly contested lead-up effort and converting the set shot from about 40m out. Does drift in and out of games but his sticky hands when marking makes him a threatening proposition for opposition clubs to curtail.

Sandringham:

#5 Ryan Byrnes

Byrnes was sensational for the Dragons, bursting away from stoppages all day and dominating in the contest. Finished with 31 disposals, seven tackles, five inside 50s and a goal. Was let down by a few inside 50 entries that were gifted to the opposition but was overall outstanding from the first siren. Had a five-disposal chain of play in the third quarter and got on the end of some Miles Bergman brilliance in the fourth, taking a nice mark in the goal square and converting. His consistent performances have been key for Sandringham, standing up in the absence of his usual midfield mates. Byrnes could not have done much more for the Dragons.

#6 Miles Bergman

Bergman could have possibly had a huge game had he made the most of his ample opportunities in front of goal. The hard-working midfielder slotted an inaccurate 1.5 but made up for this with his work around the ground, recording 19 disposals to go with nine tackles and six inside 50s. Bergman’s offensive and defensive traits were on display all game, including a fantastic run down tackle effort in the second quarter, showcasing his elite closing speed and desperation. Was played out of the goal square and won most of his one on ones, providing a headache for Bendigo defenders. Almost kicked a Paddy Dangerfield type goal in the fourth quarter, breaking away from the centre at pace, taking a bounce and driving it long to the square where the Dragons eventually goaled. Followed it up later with a delightful snap around the body to finish off a good passage of play from the Dragons. Played a monster final quarter when the game was on the line.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

Hanrahan continued his strong form into Echuca, recording 26 touches and six marks. In a game where space was hard to find, Hanrahan managed to show his good breakaway speed out of stoppages and showcased his athleticism and agility. Wasn’t as attacking with his use as he has been and failed to hit the scoreboard but played more of a midfield role. His clean disposal stood out and he started the game off strongly. Is often unmanned at stoppages and positions himself as an attacking option, often picking up the loose ball and driving it forward.

#28 Riley Bowman

Shared the ruck duties with Andrew Courtney for the majority of the game, and Bowman again impressed with his work around the ground, finishing with two goals from 14 touches. Was one of the Dragons’ best and displayed his capacity to perform in all aspects of the game, with four tackles, four marks and 19 hit-outs to go with his work up forward. Spilled a simple chance late in the last quarter but followed it up with a tackle that he won a free for, converting the straight-forward shot. Used the ball well by foot and makes his presence felt both in the air and on the ground.

#30 Andrew Courtney

The athletic ruckman was used more around the middle of the ground rather than being plugged at either end, amassing 29 hit outs and nine disposals. Courtney was serviceable for the Dragons but doesn’t do as much around the ground, as evidenced when he found space to run and carry in the second quarter but instead opted to blaze away and cough the ball up. Can also work on using his big frame more effectively to outmuscle smaller opponents and could be more aggressive to show his physical presence.

#32 Jack Bell

The tall forward finished with only one goal from three shots but showed he can be a damaging proposition, with his vertical leap and strong hands enabling him to obtain six marks from 10 disposals. Pinch-hit in the ruck as well, and Bell’s solitary goal came from a well-timed lead to a good area where he was hit on the chest by Jack Bowey, nailing the set shot from 40m out.

#33 Corey Watts

The lock down key defender was outstanding for the Dragons, with his defensive work rate and intercept marking on show all day. Watts had one terrific defensive effort in the third quarter, running off his man to pick up the ball and rebound 50, hitting his teammate lace out on the wing. Finished with 12 touches and three marks, Watts showed he’s more than a negating player, with his offensive attributes being utilised to push Sandringham forward from siren to siren.

#43 Jake Bowey

The zippy wingman worked up and down the ground, registering 17 touches, four inside 50s and five marks. Copped a big elbow to the neck region in the second quarter and had to be assisted off but finished the game to play a strong role in Sandringham’s victory. Always uses the ball well by foot and plays the percentages well. Really lifted in the last quarter, putting his small frame on the line but also providing a strong outlet for defenders, often breaking into space on the wing and providing an option.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Calder Cannons
By: Scott Dougan

Murray:

#3 Ben Kelly

Kelly started in the ruck and was constantly involved. He also spent plenty of time up forward where he proved to be very difficult to stop, especially in the air. Kelly took several strong, contested marks which resulted in two goals for his team. He showcased his reach, athleticism and sticky hands throughout the match. He ended up with 13 disposals, 15 hitouts, five marks, and two goals.

#5 Cam Wild

Wild was the Bushrangers’ best midfielder on the day. He found plenty of the pill and never faded out of the contest. He had a few fumbles early on, but he was still able to move the ball forward. One of his best passages of play came in the third term when he took a courageous mark running back with the flight of the ball. Wild had a team-high 27 disposals, along with seven marks and a goal.

#7 Zane Barzen

Barzen was able to hit the scoreboard early, with a fantastic left foot snap in the first quarter. He would then fade in and out of the game throughout the next three quarters. He was very good in patches and his ball use moving forward caught the eye.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Chalcraft did not have the biggest game possession wise, finishing with just 13 disposals. But the majority of his touches were very effective and had an impact on the game. His cleanliness at ground level and vision around the contest was noticeable. Chalcraft had an influence defensively, laying a game-high seven tackles.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Boyer was relatively quiet, accumulating 16 disposals (15 kicks). He spent time through the Bushrangers midfield and across half-back. His ball use was generally good, but he did miss targets on occasions. An okay game from the talented midfielder.

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Mott was prolific around stoppages, winning a lot of his possessions on the inside of the contest. He also won plenty of the ball on the outside, where he used the ball effectively by foot. Mott ended up with a game-high 29 disposals and one goal.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Playing on the wing, Ramsay was involved early and was able to hit the scoreboard in the first term after crumbing a marking contest to perfection. His kicking skills were top notch and he always ran hard into open space, where he would make himself a good option for his teammates. Ramsay kicked his second goal of the day in the third term when he ran into an open goal, giving the Cannons a 40-point lead. He had the chance to kick another goal moments later, but his shot on goal hit the woodwork. Ramsay collected 17 disposals and kicked two goals.

#30 Josh Kemp

Kemp started well, laying a really strong tackle on his opponent that resulted in a free-kick and shot goal on goal, which he converted successfully. He was able to hit the scoreboard again in the second term after taking a good grab inside 50. Kemp also laid some impressive tackles on the day.

#38 Brodie Newman

The general down back was very solid offensively and was just as good defensively. He had 24 disposals (16 kicks) and continually used his powerful leg to drive the ball out of the back half. Newman was the perfect player to have the ball in hand because of his clean skills and decision-making. A solid all-around game.

Geelong Falcons vs. Western Jets
By: Taylah Melki

Geelong:

#12 Noah Gribble

Won plenty of the footy and was clever with ball in hand. He used his body well to win possession and went in hard time and time again. Good strong hands and read the flight of the ball well. Give it and go mentality and runs hard to create space for the Falcons. Good evasive skills to sidestep an opponent and then dispose of the ball to a teammate further afield.

#36 Charlie Sprague

Clever kick and good spatial awareness to push the ball forward and create a scoring opportunity for his teammate. Missed a shot at goal after rushing the kick but he had more time than he expected. He consistently tried hard to win the ball and create pressure in the Falcons attacking 50 to give his side scoring chances. Harassed his opponent both at ground level and in the air making him work for each possession. Sprague showcased good football smarts to hit up teammates on the lead in the attacking 50 with well weighted kicks and won plenty of the footy getting into clever positions across the ground.

#37 Oliver Henry

Henry got into good damaging positions but was unable to convert in front of goals slotting three behinds for the afternoon. He had good hands under pressure to take some strong marks. Good lead up at the footy and clever leading patterns able to take the mark under pressure. He applied good defensive pressure in the last term to worry his opponent out of the kick and cause him to turn the ball over in the Falcons forward 50.

#40 Jesse Clark

Good strength around the contest and was able to stand up in the tackle and keep his arms free in the third term. He was involved in the play and worked hard to win the ball in and around the contest. Reads the play well and has quick hands to move the ball out of congestion and into space. Good body work to take a nice grab, shake off his opponent and then go for a run but was unable to convert in the last term only registering a point.

Western Jets:

#7 Daly Andrews

Andrews was impressive throughout the game with his quick hands and worked hard at the stoppages to win the ball and dish it out to teammates. Used the ball well with a clean pick up to turn and then kick the ball inside the Jets attacking 50. Took plenty of strong grabs and showcased his ability to read the flight of the ball and get into the right positions across the ground. He did a wealth of work across the ground winning the ball from half back and then pushing forward to create options in the forward half. He showcased some good dash to break away from the pack and go for a run along the boundary line to create some forward momentum for his side.

#20 Darcy Cassar

He won a truckload of the footy and was constantly involved in the contest across the ground. Cassar worked hard to impact every play and ensure he was an option. Good sidestep to get around his opponents and ran hard to create space across the ground. Clean at ground level and used the ball well with majority of his possessions kicks. He was important across the back half running the ball out of defence time and time again. He showcased his strength to stand up in a tackle and still get rid of the ball to a teammate. He was classy with ball in hand and tackled hard to win the ball back for the Jets credit.

#24 Josh Honey

Good attacking play to keep the ball moving, used his quick hands and good vision to pass the footy off to an opponent streaming by in better position. Clever back up play to help out his teammates and provide running support. Honey applied good strong physical pressure laying some crunching tackles with a big tackle in the third term to win a holding the ball call. Clever goal in the third term to pick the ball up cleanly and then stream into an open goal square and kick it straight through the middle.

#47 Will Kennedy 

Good turn of speed on the lead to accelerate away from his opponent and take the mark in the forward 50 but did not score on that opportunity. Kennedy did a wealth of work moving between a variety of positions and covering the ground well to impact the play. Good body work to win the ball in the ruck against a bigger bodied opponent. His ground work and follow up efforts were impressive, tracking the ball well at ground level and winning plenty of the footy.

Tasmania Devils vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Ed Pascoe

Tasmania:

#1 Mitch O’Neill

O’Neill had a quiet game by his standards and struggled to get any meaningful run or touches for a good portion of the game. The intent was there with his attack on the ball and the man, but was sometimes a bit overzealous with his tackling which resulted in a few frees against. It was not until the last quarter where he really started to turn the game, being swung forward and kicking two quick goals while looking very lively and dangerous whenever the ball went inside forward 50. O’Neill had a few nice kicks but a few poor ones as well throughout the day, but one kick was perfectly weighted to a teammate in the second quarter. O’Neill finished the game with 15 disposals, five tackles and two goals.

#3 Oliver Davis

Davis was a ball magnet through the midfield, winning it both at the contest and around the ground. His smarts with ball in hand was notable, very rarely missing a target and rarely taking the wrong option and a lot of his disposals came from knowing where the ball was going to be next whether that was roving a pack in defence or getting forward of centre in space to kick long inside 50. Davis finished the game with 33 disposals, seven marks and nine inside 50s in a best on ground performance where he couldn’t have done much more and certainly looked a mature player and leader despite not being eligible until the 2020 draft.

#7 Matt McGuinness

McGuinness was one of many solid performers down back for Tasmania he read the play well and had a good mix of defence and offence. He kicked a lovely goal on the run, running past a teammate who had marked inside 50 and that was just before the quarter time siren to give his team some momentum. The standout trait for McGuinness was obviously his kicking with his left foot hitting targets at will whether that was short or a big long 50m kick. He also intercepted well and was a calm head down back. McGuinness finished the game with 21 disposals, eight marks, five rebounds and a goal in a well rounded performance down back.

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

Young battled hard down back and was a strong contributor for Dandenong across the four quarters. He was strong in defence early with a strong tackle and his general attack on the ball was stellar. A feature of his game was his kicking where it was not only penetrating but long and dangerous often perfectly placed for the leading target. He was moved to into the midfield in the last quarter and attacked the ball well but it was his work down back that again stood out most taking a very strong intercept mark late in he quarter when the heat was on. Young finished the game with 19 disposals and four rebound 50s.

#18 Mitch Riordan

Riordan was a constant in the Dandenong engine room as a standout at the stoppages with his attack and clean hands at the contest. He hit the scoreboard early taking a nice intercept mark and kicking the set shot goal in the first quarter. His second and last quarters were his most productive and eye catching, and he showed some nice burst to evade a tackler in the second quarter and also worked hard behind the ball to help out his defenders and in the last quarter. He was pivotal at the stoppages winning some big clearances and eternally using the ball well. Riordan finished the game with 23 disposals, five tackles, five inside 50s and a goal.

#20 Sam De Koning

De Koning started the game forward and standing at 200cm was there to be a marking option but didn’t quite excel at the role. He did however get a nice front and square at a marking on test deep in the forward pocket – showing his clean hands and agility for a tall but was unfortunately taken in a good tackle. he got to pinch hit in the ruck in the first quarter and actually looked quite impressive with his leap and good taps. He was moved to defence rather quickly and showed his good rebound and clean ball use and he also did look more comfortable back there, he rarely fumbled at all and was very clean at ground level which is often an issue for players of his height. De Koning finished the game with eight disposals but rarely wasted his touches.

Gippsland Power vs. Greater Western Victoria Rebels
By: Peter Williams

Gippsland:

#4 Sam Flanders

Had a productive day at the office playing through the middle and pushing forward. Worked hard at the stoppages, showing clean hands at ground level and able to handball clear to free teammates on the outside. He had the smarts to draw a couple of players running the opposite direction and handballed over his head to a teammate who was free because of the move. He did not rush and assessed his options well throughout the day, and had two of the easier goals he will kick in his career, receiving a couple of handballs over opponents to him in the goal square – first from Riley Baldi in the opening term and Charlie Comben in the final term, to finish off his hard work in the middle with two majors.

#6 Riley Baldi

Just gets to the right positions and finds a truckload of the ball. His vision and work rate is very high, but his execution by foot can let him down at times. A couple of early inside 50s were swallowed up by opposition defenders just because they went to the wrong side of the one-on-one contest. His field kicking through midfield was better as he used his vision to see free opponents streaming down the middle and used it to open the game up. Set up a goal to Sam Flanders and another to Josh Smith, while having a funny moment where he put his hand up for the ruck stoppage despite Smith being there. Baldi read the ball of ruck hands well throughout the game.

#10 Leo Connolly

A slick mover, Connolly was impressive in patches throughout the game, particularly moving forward in transition. He was able to spin out of trouble early in the game and handball free, something he did a number of times, using a neat sidestep to create his own space in close. He laid some good tackles and had a long shot on goal which just fell short and rushed across the line in the second term. Found space in the last quarter and marked from a short Charlie Comben kick and put it straight through the middle from 45m out.

#12 Brock Smith

Did not have the prolific numbers of past weeks, but did not need to given the lack of entries inside the defensive 50 at times. Such was Gippsland’s dominance in the first half, Smith often pushed up the ground and worked well to add an extra number to the contest, handballing with teammates to get the ball moving in transition. When in defence he settled down the side and used the ball well under pressure to gain distance up the field. Took a very good mark one-on-one against Mitch Martin in the goal square to save a certain goal, and even when he lost front position in a marking contest managed to win the ball with great second efforts. Did all he could deep in defence.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Did well on the outside working hard up the wing, but also went in to win some hard balls at ground level, clean with his hands to spin out of trouble whilst under pressure to handball to a teammate. He just burrows in at ground level and wins his own footy, then can spread to the outside and provide an option. Had a good fend-off in defence to get the ball free to a teammate by hands.

#16 Josh Smith

A big game from Smith who while he did not see much of it in the final term, had a massive first three quarters and was close to best on ground. He provided a presence with his marking ability and lead out strongly, taking the ball out in front, but also worked hard with his second efforts to make a contest at ground level. Smith finished with three goals, booting one from a mark early, and two from snaps, including his second after dropping a mark he should have taken, grabbing the ball and putting it through off a couple of steps. Had a chance for his fourth from long range which was on target, but was rushed across on the line. Laid tackles and bumps for his teammates, while sharing the ruck load when not inside 50.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Phillips continued his good form this season, creating a number of chances inside 50 and booting a couple of goals. Had an outside of the boot kick to Josh Smith in the opening term, with Smith converting the opportunity, then had his own chance but drifted to the right. Kicked his first from a snap, then missed another chance this time to the left. Had some hit and miss passes by foot at times trying to keep the ball low, but worked hard pushing up to the wing, and even won a possession in the defensive 50. Laid a great tackle on the wing to show off his defensive capability and then kicked the perfect set shot in the third term after winning a free kick from being thrown to the ground. Had another couple of chances in the fourth term when he had a long shot from just inside 50 which was touched on the line, then attempted a dribble goal under pressure but bounced the wrong side of the post.

#22 Zach Reid

Used the ball well in defence and was strong overhead, seemed to move well around the ground but at times was a tad slow to react and was tackled a couple of times, forcing him to rush his disposal. Reid showed off a nice long, technically sound kick and showed good body work on his opponent one-on-one deep in defence.

#37 Harrison Pepper

Had a few nice plays when up the ground, providing a stronger body at stoppages, winning the ball in the middle and putting it into dangerous positions which yielded a goal in the second term. He was quick to dispose of the ball when winning it on the inside, and spot up a free teammate on the wing. Had a nice run in the third term, fending off an opponent and charge inside 50 but his low kick just missed its target.

GWV:

#3 Toby Mahony

Mahony had some nice plays throughout the game, not winning heaps of the ball, but still showing off some quick hands at stoppages. He had a smart movement in the first half, winning the ball at ground level, rolling over, getting his hands free and handballing to a teammate. Mahony won a free kick in the third term for being infringed in a marking contest but his shot from 40m drifted to the right. He had a great clearance and kick out of the middle in the final term as well.

#4 Jed Hill

Played through the midfield and up forward, taking a sliding mark inside 50, then having a long range shot but it fell short and was intercepted in the goal square. He laid a great tackle deep in attack in the second term, and was more prominent through the stoppages, then kicked long inside 50 to Matty Lloyd’s advantage – though he could not capitalise with the mark – after Hill’s opponent fell over just outside 50. He had a unique attempt on goal in the third term kicking it off the ground, but it went across the other side to the pocket and just stayed in for a throw-in.

#7 Mitch Martin

Showed good tackling pressure early in the game and was able to extract the ball from tight situations. Did not win a heap of the footy on the day, but was able to find space inside 50, taking a mark and then having a set shot after the siren in the first term which went to the right. Had a quieter second half, but took a good mark inside defensive 50 under pressure.

#10 Matty Lloyd

Had a nice play on the wing at one stage where he fended off an opponent, handed it off, received the ball back then kick low into a sliding Jed Hill inside 50 in the opening term, and had a chance on goal in the second when he kicked long, received the handball back, had a long-range shot but it went to the right. Had another shot on goal with a snap but missed. Another player who was okay without standing out.

#13 Jay Rantall

Rantall’s big ball-winning streak continued on the weekend with another 30-odd touches and he just keeps running. A massive endurance base, Rantall often wins the ball in tight and handballs out to a free player, while also laying some good tackles. He was not afforded the space he often can get during games, but still played his role in the midfield and was a key player in the Rebels’ better second half. His kicking is hit and miss, but his goal sense is still good, kicking a long-range goal from free play 50m out late in the final term. He had a snap just earlier but was smothered off the boot. His quick hands from congestion to the outside is a highlight.

Team of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 7

IN the most evenly spread Draft Central Team of the Week thus far, every match provided four players from the NAB League Boys Round 7 competition. With Gippsland powering to a big win over Calder, the Power had three players to the Cannons’ one, however every other game the teams were split evenly with two apiece. There were plenty of goals kicked by medium sized players, while a number of defenders had big numbers and some strong performances from inside midfielders also saw them make the cut.

Gippsland’s trio that made the side were captain Brock Smith off half-back, Sam Flanders in midfield and Riley Baldi on the bench who was also influential around the stoppages. Calder’s Jacob Martin also found plenty of the ball despite the defeat and slotted into the midfield. Bendigo Pioneers’ Sam Conforti won our Draft Central Player of the Week for Round 7 and is named in the centre alongside fellow nominee for the award, Jay Rantall from the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. Their teammates in the side are defender William Wallace (Bendigo) and mid-forward Toby Mahony (GWV).

On the other wing is Eastern Ranges overager Cody Hirst, joined in the side by Zakery Pretty who is enjoying a big year in midfield. Their opposition was Sandringham Dragons, as Miles Bergman and Ryan Byrnes made the 24-player squad as well. Tasmania also provided two players with match winner Jye Menzie and teammate Sam Collins represented in the team up either end. Holding down the other key defensive post is Geelong Falcons’ Jesse Clark, in the side with bottom-age forward Oliver Henry. Their opponents on the weekend were Murray Bushrangers, which provided full-forward Hudson Kaak (five goals) and Cam Wild who was impressive through the midfield.

In the other games, Dandenong Stingrays’ regular Hayden Young made the side again, as did Ned Cahill up forward, while their opponents Western Jets had ruck Will Kennedy and forward Eddie Ford in the team. The remaining players in the side come from the Northern Knights who were victorious over GWV Rebels, as Lachlan Potter‘s form continued, in the team with Team of the Week regular, Josh D’Intinosante.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 7

WITH NAB League proceedings back to the norm, performances were even across the board, but a few players managed stand out in a mixed bag of results. Our scouts cast eyes across all six games in Round 7, and here are their opinion-based notes on players included in the initial Victoria Country and Metro squads, as well as those pointed out by respective talent managers.

 

Geelong Falcons vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Peter Williams

Geelong:

#12 Noah Gribble

The bottom-ager had a solid game playing along the wing and winning the ball on the outside. At half-back he had a clean turn and spin, grabbing it off one touch and despite finding himself under pressure, spun out and gave off the clean hands to a teammate running forward. He affected a Will Chandler kick inside 50 with good pressure forcing him to rush, while mostly ran hard on the outside and used the ball well while doing the defensive things right.

#37 Oliver Henry

A great finisher around goal who works really hard up the ground. He goes on long searching leads and often can win the ball in midfield or even at half-back, before running hard forward doubling back on his opponent to create an outnumber forward of centre. He is strong overhead and is good on the lead, and had a great moment in the opening term, faking a step on the right to kick on the left in board to Tom Richardson leading out. He was a little ambitious at one stage in the third term, crashing through multiple players before getting caught, but finished the term with a soccer off the ground after pushing hard then doubling back once the ball went over his head. Took a great mark late in the game and kicked an easy consolation goal, finishing the match with three majors and strapping across his face from a blood nose.

#40 Jesse Clark

Not as prolific as his usual self, Clark was playing defensive roles on his opponents, spending time on players such as Zane Barzen in defence. He swallowed up anything that came his way, but the Bushrangers made a conscious effort to avoid him where possible given his prolific rebounding skills. He still managed to provide rebound out of defence and was strong overhead, just did not get it on a silver platter as much with the Bushrangers smarter kicking inside 50.

#46 Henry Walsh

Did not win much of the footy, but still competed in the ruck. Was beaten by the more experienced Ben Kelly, but applied good defensive pressure at ground level. Laid some strong tackles following up from his hitouts to nullify the ball at stoppages and had an impressive clearing punch at one stage in the third term at half-back.

 

Murray:

#3 Ben Kelly

His form this season is arguably the best of any 19 year-old tall and that continued on the weekend against inexperienced rucks. He not only gets the hitouts, but follows up with clearances and tackles, and most importantly is able to take the game on without being a liability. He has a quick few steps and can sidestep opponents but does not overdo it, and uses hands to draw an opponent and handball clear to a teammate. Along with his above average athletic traits, Kelly was able to manhandle his opponent in the third term, throwing him out of the way, grabbing the loose ball and getting his hands free to pass to a teammate. His second efforts were exemplified in the final term when he dropped an intercept mark he should have taken, but quickly followed up cleaning it up and handballing quickly to a teammate.

#5 Cam Wild

Just a workhorse. Wild finds the ball with ease on the inside or outside and he wins a lot of his touches from outrunning his opponents. His pressure at ground level is very good and he finds space to receive the ball on the flanks. In one instance in the second term, Wild won the ball at half-back, got it to the wing, ran past multiple teammates looking for the handball, was ignored, kept running, crumbed a forward stoppage and kicked a running goal. His opponent from the original play just could not go with him and because he ran so far, disrupted the opposition set-ups. He gets separation on his opponents and is a solid user of the ball.

#6 Will Chandler

Played the role of leading forward and did it well. Set up a goal to Hudson Kaak early in the game, and kicked one of his own. Kept working up the ground and winning the ball then sending it inside 50. Almost kicked a second goal earlier in the game but snapped and missed because he was being dragged down.

#7 Zane Barzen

The overager played one of his best games for the year, leading out at the footy and creating some headaches for the opposition defence. Kicked a goal in the second term with a snap around his body, then kicked a second major from a free kick set shot 35m straight in front in the third term. Had a couple more shots in the fourth quarter but one went to the left and just missed and the other went out to the right and fell short. Was strong overhead though which was a promising sign.

#12 Lachlan Ash

The potential top five pick stood out in this game with his class and ball use by hand or foot. He took the game on when in defence, and in the second half spent time up forward and through the midfield. He has an ability to produce the unbelievable by foot, kicking across his body between opponents to hit up a teammate inboard and open up the corridor. Got a free kick for being infringed in a marking contest at one stage such was his impact in the air. Kicked a goal off the ground just before three quarter time, and narrowly missed a set shot which drifted to the right in the fourth term. Not as big statistical numbers as in the past, but played multiple roles rather than just his dominant half-back rebounding role.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Got better as the game went on and finished as one of the most prolific ball winners on the ground. You do not always notice his impact unless you are watching carefully because he fires out quick handballs to teammates while under pressure, able to work out time and space with good vision. Worked hard on the inside of the contest and then runs into space to provide an option. Did not have a heap of forward chances because of the inside work, which deserved a tick today.

 

Western Jets vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Michael Alvaro

Western:

#3 Eddie Ford

The explosive bottom-ager has a good knack of getting involved up the ground from half-forward, and this game was no different as Ford worked hard to win 10 marks around the ground among his 20 disposals. He constantly looked to move the ball on, but Ford was often held up on the mark which saw him resort to handing off to runners or kicking short. While he called for the ball in odd areas at times in the defensive half, it only showed Ford’s want for the ball and his good work rate. Took a strong mark on the line against two Stingrays opponents to turn a certain behind into his first goal, while adding another in the final term to cap off a solid day. Is so clean overhead and below his knees, definitely one to watch going into 2020.

#7 Daly Andrews

Andrews was named the Jets’ best, and showed a greater contested output with almost 60 per cent of his 17 disposals won in the contest. Attending most of the centre bounces and stoppages across the day, Andrews won a handful of clearances and pushed Western forward as he usually does, pitching in with a classy goal after side-stepping Dandenong gun, Hayden Young. Andrews’ kicking was clearly impacted by his high contested ball rate, but he was much more productive by hand and flicked it out well to teammates in the clinches. Would be pushing for mid-season draft selection, but still has areas to improve on.

#20 Darcy Cassar

Cassar assumed his usual role across half back, acting as a designated kicker on the rebound and accumulating the ball well across defensive 50. He affected the drop of the centre bounces when running in hard off the back flank, and often positioned himself a kick off the ball when it was further afield. Cassar looked a little unsure of whether to stick with his opponent or guard territory in those situations, but is clearly building into the new role. Was caught holding the ball in the first term, but that did not stop him from breaking the lines going forward and taking the game on as the Jets looked to stay in the game. Cassar is a natural player and also looks comfortable forward, but can sharpen his defensive acts – highlighted by his marking attempt from behind inside defensive 50, and his low tackle count. A solid outing, and finished with a game-high 29 disposals.

#24 Josh Honey

Honey was down on his usual output in this game, but came into it with a couple of neat touches. While he struggled to generate his usual running game, Honey’s presence came in the form of five clearances and some good defensive pressure throughout, which led to a Dandenong turnover early on. Honey also moved forward in the second half and while he showed promise with a nice mark inside 50, could not quite find the goals in his time there.

#47 Will Kennedy

The over-ager has shown good promise in the ruck after moving from Sandringham, and continues to improve in his work around the ground. As a slightly more mature body, Kennedy competes well in the ruck and won 22 hitouts, but impressed more with his work at the drop to find a good amount of the ball and lay some hard tackles. A particular highlight came in the first quarter where Kennedy followed up a dropped mark to effect a smother inside 50 and keep the ball in dispute.

 

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

Young was his usual self across half-back, racking up a team-high 27 disposals as well as an equal game-high seven rebound 50s and five inside 50s. Ever the damaging player, Young kicked 77 per cent of the time at 76 per cent efficiency, but fell short with a few lower-distance passes by foot. Young mopped up well in the defensive half, using his clean hands to gather at ground level and quickly dispose of the ball to good effect. Young was also given the freedom to push forward well in a high Dandenong press, and had to opportunity to hit the scoreboard with a set shot early on. A contribution we have come to expect, but still always impressive.

#10 Clayton Gay

The exciting bottom-ager mixed his time between a deep forward position and up on the wing, but looked most dangerous inside 50. Kept Cassar accountable in the forward half early on and even caught him holding the ball with a terrific tackle, while later contributing a major on the back of a contested mark in the goalsquare. Looked to take it on when playing up the field, and while he is not a high accumulator, always garners attention when on the ball. One to watch for next year.

#11 Ned Cahill

One who continues to rise in my eyes, Cahill returned another eye-catching display in this game. Positioned mostly inside 50, Cahill was isolated against his Western opponent and out-worked him to find space around goals – kicking two majors in dispute during the first quarter and another couple from set shots in the last. It proved good reward for effort given Cahill’s ability to find space, and he could well have finished with a couple more goals to make it a true day out. The way Cahill plays taller than his height would suggest makes him a versatile threat inside 50, and he is certainly one who will look to prove himself further in the National Championships.

#18 Mitch Riordan

Over-ager Riordan has built a good case to be picked up in the mid-season draft after an interrupted top-age year, and was damaging from stoppages around the ground in this outing. Riordan’s run from congestion was great to watch, with an explosive first five steps allowing him to break forward quickly and dispose of the ball effectively in more space, while also flicking out handballs well. Repeat efforts in-close helped him tally his 25 disposals, including five clearances, but Riordan also contributed well in handball chains – using his pace to good effect.

#20 Sam De Koning

De Koning switched roles in this game with fellow tall, Nyuon, trading his time between the forward line and ruck to prove his versatility and get a different look. He started one-out in the goalsquare, but caught the eye more with his leap in the ruck early on. Took a couple of handy marks leading up to the ball, but missed early chances on goal which he later rectified with a sole major. Looks to still be learning and refining all areas of his game, and has a good athletic base.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

Nyuon was thrown back, where he played a lot of football for the Stingrays last season. Opposed to man-mountain Aaron Clarke at times, the St Kilda NGA prospect was competitive in overhead contests and followed up well at ground level to provide calm use out of defensive 50. Made a nice run forward after a clean sweep of the ball on his defensive arc, getting it back at the opposite 50 to deliver inside. Can dominate games if he can continue to snap up big marks, but is still improving at both ends.

#50 Lachlan Williams

Was by no means a high accumulator, but Williams looked lively whenever he got on the ball. Moves forward so well from the wing and is an aggressive runner, which was encapsulated well by his second-quarter goal on the fly after a running bounce. Also took a nice overhead mark early on which caught the eye, and could have added another goal in the last term.

 

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Tasmania Devils
By: Michael Alvaro

Bendigo:

#1 Sam Conforti

The bottom-ager was best-afield in a busy outing on the wing, earning him the Draft Central Player of the Week nod. While he was most influential in the first and last quarters, Conforti worked hard all day on the outside to provide a releasing option along the outer of Queen Elizabeth Oval, finding a heap of space time after time. Prepare for the inevitable Caleb Daniel comparisons, as the diminutive left footer oozes class with neat kicks and is hard at it in the contest with a low centre of gravity. He looks a much better kick on the run, using his vision and smarts to find targets others cannot – much like in the second term where he hit up James Schischka for a goal with a clever 90-degree kick. Impressed with a couple of overhead intercept marks in the final term, and finished off his day with a nice goal after sidestepping his opponent.

#19 Ben Worme

Worme started a little shakily but found his feet as the game wore on. He accumulated well, usually on the opposite wing to Conforti, and was smart in his positioning when the ball was set to come out of his side’s forward 50 – intercepting from two occasions, with one resulting in a missed shot on goal. Was let down somewhat by a combination of his decision making and execution, but had the right idea as he often looked to go inside with his kicks in particular. A solid outing.

#20 James Schischka

Schischka was a solid contributor, and looked a decent marking threat when played inside forward 50. On top of converting two set shot goals in his time forward, Schischka’s best moments came in traffic where he would often shrug off opponents and keep his head in crises with handballs out to receivers. Moved into the midfield late on, but found his second major after an impressive overhead mark in the goalsquare from a set shot which fell short, putting the Pioneers in front.

 

Tasmania:

#3 Oliver Davis

It was an indifferent display from Davis, who was a constant at the stoppages. While he tackled ferociously and was solid in the clinches, many of his kicks were hacked forward and he looked rushed in possession at times. One of his better kicks found Cohen Stephenson inside 50 to give him a set shot chance, and Davis even hit the scoreboard with a clutch free kick conversion to snatch back the lead in the final term. Can polish up areas of his game, but has a good physical base and finds the ball.

#13 Sam Collins

Played the role of sweeper in the back half well, mopping up cleanly and providing efficient rebound when given time. While many of his short kicks were effective, Collins was another who missed a couple on the back of acts under pressure – with one cross-goal ball almost leading to a turnover goal. Looked much better in space with handball receives, and certainly has potential.

#25 Jackson Callow

Arguably Tasmania’s leading bottom-age prospect, Callow mixed his time up forward and through the ruck, competing well in both areas. Almost made an ideal start when he won a contested ball at ground level deep inside 50, but dribbled to an opponent in the goalsquare. Callow’s lead up marking to the 50 and clunks overhead were a feature, with the big-man often wheeling around quickly to deliver forward. While he did not quite find the goals himself, a spearing ball to Jye Menzie gifted his side one, and Callow played an important overall role for the Devils.

#31 Jye Menzie

Menzie ended up being the hero of the day, converting a set shot after the siren to give Tasmania a miraculous win. While he was quiet early on, Menzie came into the game in the second term when he won a free kick one-out, putting through the resultant set shot. Booted another in the third quarter and crucially contributed two more in the final term, with a shimmy giving him his third and the game-winner his fourth. Finds space inside 50 well and looks most dangerous there, proving to be a clinical finisher when given the opportunity.

 

Greater Western Victoria Rebels vs. Northern Knights
By: Cameron Ross

Northern:

#1 Lachie Potter

Really like him. He is lightning quick and damaging off half back. Question marks over his kicking, but he is dangerous enough with the handball to be effective. Rebels clued onto how damaging he was when receiving handballs, and marked him tightly, but still was a positive influence on the game, and one of the best Knights on the day.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Copped a whack in the face in the second quarter, but it didn’t stop him. Very clean, and was really damaging across the half forward line where he was consistently hitting up leading forwards for scoring opportunities. Really smart player, who was rarely beaten at ground level and was crucial in the Knights’ second half dominance.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

The young defender was another who was very reliable all game, and even snuck forward for a long goal on the run in the final term. Seems to be a very nice size, and has enough pace that he could play on the smalls as well. I’m not sure if he had a direct opponent or not all game, as he seemed to easily find a lot of the ball.

 

GWV:

#3 Toby Mahony

Kicked three nice goals, and was a presence in the air and around the all game. Took a really nice mark up forward, after floating in from the side and crashing the pack, and topping it off with a goal.

#8 James Cleaver

Very reliable down back, and I’m not sure he was beaten one on one all game. Took a couple of nice intercept marks, and limited McMahon to only the one major.

#10 Matty Lloyd

Had a couple of very flashy moments. Made a defender look foolish with clever side step, and drilled a shot at goal that just missed. Quiet through patches but others were quieter. Left the game late with a calf injury, hopefully cramp?

#13 Jay Rantall

Best player on the ground. Key in the Rebels moving the ball effectively out of the backline and midfield and one of the few players who wanted to take the game on and make the play instead of just kicking to a pack. His link up run and intelligent handballing were extremely impressive, and broke the game open. Good overhead, good below his knees, and hit most of his targets on the day. 10/10 game.

 

Sandringham Dragons vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Joe Lee

Sandringham:

#5 Ryan Byrnes

The zippy midfielder continued his strong form, finishing with a team-high 28 disposals and five inside 50s. Byrnes trademark explosive burst out of the stoppage was on show all day, easily manoeuvring his way past his Eastern opponents and driving the ball long inside 50. Used the ball well when others let themselves down in this department and never stopped trying. Byrnes looks a well-rounded prospect, who covers the ground well and is adept at winning the ball from the inside of the contest and utilising his speed to run and carry the ball. Overall was outstanding for the Dragons and was just about their best player.

#6 Miles Bergman

The big-bodied midfielder was solid for the Dragons, using his strength and frame to win the ball in the clinches. Had a quiet first half with only six touches but worked well into the game, finishing with 18 disposals, five marks, and a goal. Used the ball well and his first reaction to hit a target inside the corridor on show all day, with a number of his kicks hitting up a teammate in space. Worked hard all day and improved as the game got tighter.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

Starting on the wing, the top—ager showcased his signature class and polish but also his two-way running in another strong performance. Finishing with 27 disposals and nine marks, perhaps the most telling stats for Hanrahan was his four rebounds and six inside 50s, highlighting a willingness to work both ways for the Dragons. Kicked a show-stopping goal on his opposite foot from the boundary and would’ve had a day out had he taken two opportunities running into the goals in the second and last quarters. Was a class above in the first half and was the leading disposal winner at the main break but drifted out early in the 4th when the game was in the balance. Sound performance from the wingman and is building a strong case to be selected in the mid-season/end of season draft.

#28 Riley Bowman

The athletic ruck-forward was solid for the dragons, amassing 18 hitouts to go with 15 disposals and three inside 50s. Had a quiet first quarter but lifted from then on, which included a chase down tackle in the Dragons forward 50 that resulted in a shot on goal. Moves well around the ground and hits the contest hard, both in the air and on the ground. Was sometimes out-muscled by the bigger Riley Smith in the ruck but overall probably had more influence on the game around the ground than his Eastern opponent.

#30 Andrew Courtney

Courtney had a solid day down back for the Dragons with a multitude of spoils and one—percenters that often halved or won 50-50 contests. Only had 8 disposals and was used around the ground with 11 hitouts in the ruck and a stint up forward, Courtney was thrown around the ground which may have hurt his impact. The 200cm prospect needs to improve his disposal numbers and could have more influence in the air if he got both hands to the ball rather than opting for the safety of a spoil. positions himself well in defence and engages his opponent early, using his strong frame to move them under the ball then bringing it to ground.

#32 Jack Bell

The ruck-forward was workmanlike for the Dragons, generating a goal from 13 disposals, eight hitouts, and seven marks. Had a strong first half before dropping away with only three disposals in the second half but the skinny prospect did some nice things, taking some strong contested marks. Often let himself down by playing on and being tackled and needs to work on being quicker with ball in hand, often taking too long to give off a handball or a kick. Was a good performance from the agile prospect.

#33 Corey Watts

The close-checking key defender was serviceable again for Sandringham, having more effect as the game wore on. Shows desperation in defense, often coming off his direct opponent to influence the contest but needs to do more, not having a touch in the first half. Finished with 11 disposals and four rebounds and showed he has the capabilities to become an aerial threat, taking two big pack marks late in the fourth quarter and driving the ball long out of the Dragons defense. if he can do this more consistently then Watts will become a stronger asset to the Dragons defense.

#43 Jake Bowey

The red-haired midfielder was productive for the Dragons, showcasing his elite speed and evasiveness across the whole game. Failed to hit the scoreboard but played predominantly on the wing, finishing with 23 disposals. Was often tackled and thrown around due to his small stature but did some eye-catching things, including leaping for a huge mark and following up to earn a free kick. Produces fantastic repeat efforts and has a large pressure factor. Is smart with ball in hand and uses it effectively on his left boot, the bottom-ager is one to watch out for.

 

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

Stapleton was huge for the Ranges, winning 23 disposals, five inside 50s and a goal. Had the ball on a string for the second half and led the Rangers to victory, kicking a clutch goal in the third term from about 45 metres out on a tough angle and on the wrong side for a left footer. Works tirelessly on the inside and spreads hard on the outside. Didn’t put a foot wrong all day and was a huge reason for the Ranges win.

#13 Jamieson Rossiter

The power forward was strong target all day for Eastern, clunking eight marks to go along with 15 disposals. Did not hit the scoreboard (one behind) and did cough up a few kicks inside 50 but tried hard and set up a Connor Downie goal that ended up being the match winner.

#17 Cody Hirst

The smart wingman ran hard all day, with most of his 31 disposals being won in the Eastern back half (six rebounds). The impressive midfielder possesses clean hands and skills, always finding a target by foot even when there seemingly is no option. On a day where most players opted to kick it long down the line or bomb it inside 50, Hirst’s clever ball use stood out. Covers the ground with ease and loves to take a bounce. Hirst had a huge last quarter and willed his team over the line.

#18 Billy McCormack

The mobile tall forward started the game strongly, kicking a goal off the ground after halving an aerial contest, bringing the ball to ground and beating two Dragons defenders. Has an accurate field kick and was a good lead up target out of defence and in attack. On a day where key forwards struggled McCormack was solid, rounding out his day with 1.2 from 12 disposals.

#20 Connor Downie

The smart bottom ager had his best game for the year, with his match-winning goal capping off a 25-disposal, seven-inside-50 and six-mark effort. Was consistently strong all day, combining with Hirst on the wing to provide rebound off the half back line and efficient use inside 50. Very clean under pressure and rarely fumbles, Downie ran hard all day and was a headache later in the piece for the Dragons, who struggled to contain Eastern’s outside midfielders.

#21 James Ross

The general in defence, Ross was prolific for the Rangers, intercepting multiple Dragons inside 50’s with his strong hands, and providing damaging rebound. Capped off a sound performance with 24 disposals, nine marks, and nine rebounds to be the best defender on the ground. Set up the Rangers defensive structures and was consistent throughout, often playing as the loose man. In the Rangers top few players.

#49 Riley Smith

The 199cm ruckman had a tough day. With the Dragons rotating Bell, Courtney, and Bowman in the middle, Smith shouldered the majority of the ruck duty for Eastern, capping off a strong performance with 10 disposals and 23 hitouts. Used his bigger and more developed frame to outmuscle opponents and the Eastern midfielders lifted in the second half thanks to Smith’s solid tap-work.

 

Gippsland Power vs. Calder Cannons
By: Peter Williams

Gippsland:

#4 Sam Flanders

Flanders was one of Gippsland’s best on the day, playing in the forward half and having a crucial role in extracting the ball from stoppages and pumping it inside 50. He took a great one-on-one mark in front of goal in the first term and booted a goal from the set shot. Flanders took a number of marks when leading outside of the forward 50, missing a shot later in the game, but was a consistent four quarter performance.

#6 Riley Baldi

Baldi continued his strong form this season since returning from injury with some hard running throughout the match. He often teamed up with Fraser Phillips when kicking inside 50, giving him a number of score assists, including a late goal. One trait that was noticeable with Baldi was his lightning quick hands, able to scoop the ball off the deck with one-touch and handball to a teammate running past without his teammate breaking stride. Had a couple of shots on goal but finished with two behinds.

#10 Leo Connolly

Had a few nice passages of play along the wing, creating run out of defence, often picking up the loose ball and kicking down the line. His kicking was neat and smart throughout the game, and he spread into space taking plenty of marks while being the outside mover to complement Gippsland’s array of inside bulls.

#12 Brock Smith

Another super performance from the defender who patrolled the backline and gobbled up everything that came his way in the first term as despite Calder having double the inside 50s. Smith’s remarkable first team saw him have 14 disposals and five marks, more than half of his total touches by the end of the game. While the Cannons used the ball better after quarter time, Smith still remained involved in the contest, showing good closing speed opposed to Josh Kemp, laying a great tackle to nullify the contest. Also loved the argy bargy with a few things to say to Kemp on the wing after being tackled. Another highlight came late in the third term with a long-range goal which got the team up and about.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Played his usual game through the middle, roaming between the arcs and getting free to win plenty of the ball in space. He also went in when he had to winning his fair share of his own ball, while getting the ball forward to advantage. He spread well and broke up play using sharp, short kicks.

#16 Josh Smith

Had a big start to the day, booting two goals in the opening term despite copping a knock to the face. Shared the ruck load with Charlie Comben and while he was quieter after quarter time, still had a number of inside 50s to put pressure on the opposition defence.

#17 Charlie Comben

The big man had a consistent four quarter effort playing through the ruck, leading up at the football when in attack, getting back and assisting his defence when in the back half, and winning his fair share of hitouts through the middle. He had a set shot in the second term but his shot fell short in the goalsquare. Comben showed good defensive pressure for a tall, laying some fierce tackles on opponents. Promising signs.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Kicked four goals for the game, including two in the final term – one coming after the siren. He had another chance from a snap tight on the boundary but missed, and then gave one off to a teammate instead of having a shot. Played almost exclusively inside 50 in the match and provided the Power with a target throughout the game. Has that excitement factor about him.

 

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Mott was his industrious self on the weekend, playing an inside role at stoppages and along with Jacob Martin, was one of only two players to reach double-figure contested possessions. He was not able to get the time and space he normally would and thus resulted in some rushed kicks. Nonetheless he was one of Calder’s best, extracting from the stoppages and pumping the ball long, then dropping back in defence and getting it clear from the danger.

#5 Curtis Brown

Kicked Calder’s first goal in the second term after winning a free and launching a set shot from outside 50, easily making the distance. Had some nice touches at half-forward, using the ball neatly and trying to get the ball moving in the Cannons’ favour.

#30 Josh Kemp

Had a few good moments in the first half including an intercept mark at half-forward and showed clean hands leading up at the football and was clean with his disposal off the bounce. Received a 50m penalty in the third term and kicked the Cannons’ only goal of the quarter, but otherwise was quiet in the second half.

#38 Brodie Newman

A quieter game compared to his recent form, but Newman still won his fair share of touches in the back half. His work rate and on-field leadership were noticeable, running well off half-back and intercepting a number of early Gippsland forward thrusts. Tried to keep his side alive and the ball moving. Had a team-high seven rebounds and was the key general back there.

NAB League Boys Round 7 preview: Top four clash headlines ladder-shaping weekend

THE Northern Academies have come and gone in the NAB League, and proceedings will continue as normal for the remainder of the year as the ladder begins to take shape. A top four clash looms as the game of the weekend, with a host of bottom-half sides set to jostle for position in an important round of action.

GEELONG FALCONS v MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Saturday May 11, 2:00pm
Avalon Airport Oval

Fresh off their first NAB League season win, the Geelong Falcons will be hoping for more of the same when they host Murray Bushrangers in Avalon. While both teams can only lay claim to one win thus far, Geelong sits a ladder spot above its weekend opponents having also picked up a draw. Bad luck has also followed either side to this point, with close games going the way of their opposition more often than not – seeing their effort and ability to be competitive go unrewarded. The Falcons will also be without co-captain Cooper Stephens for most of the year, so need their brigade of small running midfielders to stand up once again, while Oliver Henry remains a target up forward. The Bushrangers welcome back some over-age depth in the likes of Ben Kelly, Zane Barzen, and Liam Fiore, looking primed to make a mid-season charge up the ladder. While this could be a good chance to start a winning run, the inexperienced Falcons have showed they are often competitive and can stay with sides around their level. Expect a good battle with a second win up for grabs.

WESTERN JETS v DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Saturday May 11, 3:15pm
Williamstown Football Ground

The ladder-leading Dandenong Stingrays travel to Williamstown to do battle with Western Jets, looking to keep their undefeated record in tact. A draw against Geelong remains the only blemish in an otherwise perfect Stingrays season, with their last two wins after a Round 4 bye both coming by over 70 points. The 3-2 Jets will be wary of their weekend opponents’ form, but are on a good run themselves after winning two-consecutive games before enjoying their own bye last week. The bye round proved perfect timing for over-agers Daly Andrews and Will Kennedy, who put their hands up for mid-season draft selection in the Young Guns game and will be back in Western colours this week. In the same vein, Dandenong welcomes Mitch Riordan and Bailey Schmidt back to a lineup which looks like it is really starting to click – with key position and smaller guns on each line. Equal form lines aside, the Stingrays will fancy their chances in this one, but a win may not come as easily as in their last two outings.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v TASMANIA DEVILS
Sunday May 12, 11:00am
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Bendigo Pioneers and Tasmania Devils will both be looking to build on their two respective wins for the year when they clash at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Sunday’s first game. The ‘Pios have been unable to add to their impressive Round 1 and 2 wins, but only went down by a combined 21 points in their last two games despite losing a couple of key players to school football. Meanwhile, Tasmania has also gone down in its last two efforts, including a heartbreaking one-point loss to Oakleigh at home last week. The positive signs are there for the Devils though, with Mitch O’Neill the only Australian representative star not to return to the side since his showcase outing. Despite others returning, Matthew McGuiness, Joseph Chaplin, Nicholas Baker, and Tyler Penwright are all key outs this week, leaving the Devils without some key experience and class. With the ability to hang with Bendigo clearly there, the travelling side will hope the continued development of their players can see them snatch another set of four points. But with travel a factor and Bendigo looking to stick with the pack of teams on 12 points, it will prove no mean feat.

GIPPSLAND POWER v CALDER CANNONS
Sunday May 12, 1:00pm
Morwell Recreational Reserve

Gippsland Power will look to continue its surge up the NAB League ladder at home on Sunday, but Calder Cannons stand in the way of a possible third-consecutive win. The hosts have gotten the better of three results decided by under 10 points, with their only loss coming by just six against table-toppers, Dandenong. Calder is on a run of two-straight wins after its Round 4 loss to Tasmania, faring far more competitively despite being the worst-placed of three sides on 12 points. While the Power has only named an extended bench, Calder looks set to lose some back-six class this week – with Sam Ramsay and Mason Fletcher out. Despite that, over-agers Sam Graham and Josh Kemp should prove key ins for a Cannons side looking to compete with a formidable Gippsland outfit. With Sam Flanders kicking into gear, Riley Baldi returning well from injury, and skipper Brock Smith nominated for the Round 6 Draft Central Player of the Week, the Power should soon consolidate themselves as a genuine premiership contender.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Sunday May 12, 1:00pm
MARS Stadium

A third win is up for grabs for both the Greater Western Victoria Rebels and Northern Knights as they clash in Ballarat on Sunday afternoon. Despite boasting equal wins, the Rebels have a far greater percentage than the Knights having won by 55 points over the Northern Territory Academy and their biggest loss coming by 14 points. Northern’s two victories have come in the last two weeks against Bendigo and the NT, with the Knights also breaking through for a season-high score of 98 (their next-best is 73). Some over-age and bottom-age inclusions for the Knights will aid their cause, with Sunny Brazier, Ollie Simpson, Nikolas Cox, and Ben Major returning to the side alongside top-age midfield ace, Sam Philp. Over-age talent also returns for the home side, as Jed Hill, James Cleaver, and Matty Lloyd have all been named. With the sides’ collective wins coming against bottom-half opponents, both will see this game as an opportunity for more of the same as the ladder starts to take shape. Northern should also be breathing fire after last year’s Wildcard Round thrashing at the hands of their weekend opponents, so expect a hot contest.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v EASTERN RANGES
Sunday May 12, 2:00pm
RSEA Park

Arguably the game of the round will be played out in Moorabbin, with Sandringham Dragons and Eastern Ranges set to do battle in a top four clash. Having been knocked off top spot after a bye round, the Dragons will be looking to pick up from where they left off, winning by 97 points in their last outing. While the Ranges were beaten by a strong Gippsland side last time out, they have been a one of the competition’s more consistent teams, with their only other loss coming to a full-strength Oakleigh in Round 1. A strong array of talls remains in the Sandringham 22, with Ryan Byrnes the key man in midfield and Angus Hanrahan and Riley Bowman coming off a Young Guns outing. The likes of Cody Hirst and Riley Smith come back for Eastern, adding strength to their running and tall games respectively. With much of the Dragons’ threats coming in their 195cm-plus players, this will again be a tough test for an Eastern side stacked with smaller runners, despite a bigger forward line. A tight tussle should ensue, with one side looking to stamp its authority and the other keen to prove it is a genuine contender.

BYE: Oakleigh Chargers

Team of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 5

SANDRINGHAM Dragons’ massive win in Round 5 of the NAB League Boys competition has seen four players make the Draft Central Team of the Week. It was the most of any side, with the thrashing among a number of one-sided contests, also seeing big winners, Dandenong Stingrays and Eastern Ranges recording three players apiece. All the other winners had two players make the side, while Round 5 losers, Bendigo Pioneers, Geelong Falcons, Murray Bushrangers and Oakleigh Chargers had one player each in the team. Of the shortlist of 36 that had to be reduced down to 24, the three players last to be cut and therefore are hypothetical emergencies, were Gippsland Power’s Brock Smith, Murray Bushrangers’ Jye Chalcraft and Western Jets’ Will Kennedy.

In a round where many AFL Academy players were rested or had other football commitments, a number of those remaining stood up, as did a great deal of other players, with seven debutants in this round’s Team of the Week. Sandringham captain Ryan Byrnes is the sole former representative, with Team of the Week debutants, Louis Butler, Jack Bell and Harry Loughnan all making the 24-player squad. The Dandenong Stingrays’ trio that have made the side have been in a Team of the Week before with Ned Cahill and Lachlan Williams both booting three goals on the weekend and making the side, while Jack Toner also slots into the team. For Eastern, Zakery Pretty was our Player of the Week and leads the onball division, alongside debutants, ruck Riley Smith and key position defender Joel Nathan, of whom the latter was best known for his massive hanger on the weekend.

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels were the last winners of the round with a victory over Northern Territory on Sunday. Riley Polkinghorne had a standout game up forward and makes his debut in our Team of the Week, while Jay Rantall returns to the team after an exciting performance through the midfield. Western Jets’ win earlier in the day on Sunday against Tasmania resulted in two players making the final squad of 24, with Darcy Cassar and Josh Kellett – both returning players to the team – making the side in respective back pockets. The day before, Calder Cannons’ Brodie Newman took 17 marks to go with his 36 disposals and was a monty to be named at centre half-back. He is joined in the side by teammate Daniel Mott. Over in Gippsland, Harrison Pepper had a breakout game and made the side for his debut, while Riley Baldi returned from injury and made a statement.

On Friday night, Josh D’Intinosante and Ewan Macpherson were impressive for the Knights, with the latter making his debut in our Team of the Week. Bendigo’s Riley Wilson returns as the sole Pioneer, with James Schischka another player making the short list, but with so many impressive defenders this weekend it was hard to fit everyone in. Meanwhile other sole nominees for their sides were Charlie Sprague (Geelong Falcons) – who impressed in a weekend where the weather suited the smaller players – Cameron Wild (Murray Bushrangers) and Trent Bianco (Oakleigh Chargers).

Weekend wash-up: NAB League Boys – Round 5

A NEW ladder-leader has emerged in the NAB League as one academy side suffered its first loss, and Geelong Falcons and Northern Territory remain the only ones without a win. With eyes on each of the nine games, here is the Round 5 wash-up.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.1 | 6.1 | 7.2 | 7.7 (49)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.0 | 3.2 | 6.3 | 8.6 (54)

GOALS:

Bendigo: K. Brown 2, K. Attwell, J. Ginnivan, R. Ironside, C. Fisher, J. Rodi.
Northern: J. Bowne 2, S. Brazier 2, J. D’Intinosante, C. Barbera, Z. Costello, J. Lucente.

BEST:

Bendigo: R. Wilson, W. Wallace, J. Ginnivan, J. Schischka, B. Worme, R. Ironside.
Northern: E. Macpherson, J. D’Intinosante, S. Philp, S. Brazier, Z. Costello, L. Potter.

It took five rounds but Northern Knights finally came away with some premiership points, downing the impressive Bendigo Pioneers by less than a kick under lights at Queen Elizabeth Oval on Friday night. Bendigo lost its second consecutive game after starting the season 2-0, despite having chances to win in both matches. In this clash, the Pioneers led throughout the night, including by 17 points at the main break. A more determined Knights outfit came out in the second half, making the most of their run and carry, booting five goals to one in the second half to secure the five-point victory. Ewan Macpherson was named best on ground for Northern, while Josh D’Intinosante was consistent across the four quarters, as were fellow inside midfielders, Sam Philp and Sunny Brazier. Lachie Potter showed dash off half-back and between the run from defence to the inside ball winning capabilities, the Knights were better across the four quarters. For the Pioneers, Riley Wilson was terrific across the four quarters, while James Schischka was ever-reliable in defence with William Wallace, while Ben Worme and Riley Ironside were others who performed on the night for the Pioneers.

SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY 5.2 | 9.3 | 11.5 | 13.10 (88)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 0.3 | 2.9 | 7.9 | 9.10 (64)

GOALS:

Sydney: H. Ellem 3, T. Drum 2, H. Maguire 2, M. Sheather, A. Watling, J. Barling, K. McGrath, P. Roseby, M. Rossmann.
Murray: C. Wilson 3, H. Kaak 2, C. Wild, K. Chalcraft, J. Chalcraft, J. O’Dwyer.

BEST:

Sydney: L. Swaney, C. Nash, A. Watling, M. Geddes, J. Dol, S. Thorne
Murray: C. Wild, J. Chalcraft, S. Durham, K. Chalcraft, C. Wilson, W. Christie

Sydney Swans Academy extended its unbeaten NAB League run on Saturday, kicking off the Blacktown double-header with an impressive 24-point win over the Murray Bushrangers. The loss is the only result for Murray that has been decided by over seven points after going 1-2 across the first three rounds, with the Bushrangers unlucky to be languishing in the bottom half of the table. They were beaten out of the blocks by the home side, which broke out to a 29-point lead at the first break, while building on it well to find themselves an seven six goals up at half time. The Bushrangers fought back after the main break, taking their chances well to boot 5.0 to 2.2 in the third term, but the gap proved too far to bridge in a rather stalemate final stanza as the Swans cruised to victory. An impressive nine individual Swans goal kickers were led by Hamish Ellem‘s three majors from 22 disposals, while Harry Maguire and Thomas Drum snared two each in low possession games. While Kyle Martin led their possession count, Lachlan Swaney was named best for the Swans for his 18-disposal performance, while Sam Thorne, Max Geddes and Jacob Dol each had over 20 touches to also be thereabouts. Cam Wild continues to be a standout for Murray, named their best in this outing on the back of 28 disposals, seven inside 50s and a goal, while both Kade and Jye Chalcraft hit the scoreboard to be named in the best alongside leading goal-getter Cameron Wilson, who bagged three. Murray goes on to face other Sydney academy, GWS in Round 6, while the Swans face Geelong Falcons in their final NAB League hit-out.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.2 | 10.4 | 12.8 | 19.10 (124)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.1 | 3.2 | 4.4 | 8.6 (54)

GOALS:

Dandenong: E. Cahill 3, L. Williams 3, J. Neal 2, W. Bravo 2, B. Kuipers 2, J. Nanscawen 2, B. Nyuon, B. Welsh, B. Milford, A. Bradtke, L. Goonan.
Oakleigh: L. Stelling 2, T. Graham, T. Lovell, R. Valentine, H. Mundy, B. Rogers, F. Elliot.

BEST:

Dandenong: E. Cahill, J. Toner, J. Nanscawen, L. Williams, S. De Koning, C. Gay
Oakleigh: J. Woodfull, S. Seach, R. Valentine, L. Jenkins, F. Elliot, L. Stelling

In their first three clashes, the Dandenong Stingrays have enjoyed absolute nail-biters, winning by a goal twice, and the drawing with Geelong Falcons in Round 3. While the opening term scores suggested this one would head down the same path, the action told a different story with the Stingrays on top, but not putt ing the scores on the board. That happened in the second term when they took full control of the game from Oakleigh Chargers, piling on eight goals to one with the breeze in a windy day at Shepley Oval. In front of a home crowd, the Stingrays put an understrength Oakleigh to the sword, extending the lead to 52 points by the final break, before running away with it in the last term as both sides managed to break through for goals. Eleven majors were kicked as Dandenong won that quarter seven goals to four, and enjoyed a massive 70-point win. In the absence of Hayden Young, Ned Cahill stood tall to be the standout player on the ground, while Luke Williams also contributed with his long-range goals a highlight. Jack Toner and Clayton Gay were solid throughout, as was Sam De Koning who took a multitude of intercept marks at centre half-back. For Oakleigh, Jacob Woodfull is hard to miss, rocking a mullet, but the ruck was sensational throughout the match, while Sam Seach and Ryan Valentine were also named among the best. AFL Academy members and co-captains Trent Bianco and Dylan Williams showed signs across the ground, but the Stingrays controlled the play for the most part in the impressive win.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 8.3 | 13.9 | 17.13 | 19.18 (132)
BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY 0.1 | 1.1 | 3.3 | 5.5 (35)

GOALS:

Sandringham: B. O’Leary 3, J. Bell 2, K. Yorke 2, A. Courtney 2, A. Hanrahan 2, R. Byrnes, T. Murray, J. Voss, J. Le Grice , T. Deane-Johns, G. Grey, D. Hipwell, A. Perkins.
Brisbane: T. Wischnat, T. Abberley, C. Bowes, M. McDonald, T. Matthews.

BEST:

Sandringham: J. Bell, J. Voss, H. Loughnan, R. Byrnes, L. Butler, R. Bowman
Brisbane: W. Martyn, T. Griffiths, B. Reville, T. Jeffrey

New NAB League table-toppers Sandringham Dragons roared to a thumping 97-point win over the Brisbane Lions academy, keeping its perfect record in tact. A 13-goal to one blitz in the first half set up the final margin of victory for the home side, with a whopping 13 Dragons getting on the scoresheet and five of them scoring multiple goals – led by Blake O’Leary‘s three. The tall timber of Jack Bell and Andrew Courtney proved a handful for the Lions defence, with over-ager Angus Hanrahan chiming in well early and bottom-ager Archie Perkins also impressive forward of centre. Midfield maestro Ryan Byrnes (26 disposals, seven inside 50s, one goal) was the key catalyst for the first-half onslaught though, winning a wealth of ball through the middle and setting Sandringham forward with bursting runs and inside 50 entries on both sides. The likes of Louis Butler (31 disposals) and Harry Loughnan (25, nine marks) also covered the ground well, with Riley Bowman showing his versatility in all key-position posts. Though they were soundly beaten overall, the Lions showed good heart in the second half to keep Sandringham to six goals while scoring four of their own, with key players finding their way into the game. One who was combative all day was Will Martyn (33 disposals, 10 marks, six tackles), leading his side well from midfield and leading all-comers in disposals. Tom Griffiths was named in the best for his role in an under-siege defence, while the smooth-moving Bruce Reville lifted in the second half to also be thereabouts, and bottom-ager Tahj Abberley also showed good signs. In its final NAB League outing, Brisbane hosts Dandenong in the Sunshine State, while Sandringham can enjoy a bye.

GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 1.1 | 5.1 | 9.4 | 9.7 (61)
GIPPSLAND POWER 3.2 | 8.5 | 9.5 | 10.10 (70)

GOALS:

GWS: L. Conlan 2, L. Delahunty 2, H. Grant 2, R. Mooney, J. Peatling, T. Organ.
Gippsland: R. Baldi 2, H. Pepper, Z. Skinner, M. McGarrity, J. van der Pligt, B. Maslen, W. Papley, F. Phillips, K. Dunkley.

BEST:

GWS: H. Grant, N. Murray, L. Squire, J. Lucas, S. Driscoll, J. Peatling
Gippsland: J. Smith, H. Pepper, R. Baldi, R. Sparkes, B. Smith, T. Hourigan

Gippsland Power was made to work for its third win of the NAB League season, downing a spirited GWS Giants Academy side by nine points in Blacktown. The travel did not seem to faze the Victorian side, looking fresh coming off a bye round to set up an early lead. The Power’s 13-point quarter-time lead proved the difference in their second-consecutive win, as the home side poured on eight goals during the second and third terms to get within a single point heading into the final break. With the game on the line, Gippsland’s depth proved too strong, seeing the Power home in a tense and low-scoring final term. Riley Baldi sent a timely reminder of his talent with 22 disposals, eight inside 50s and two goals on his return, with big-man Josh Smith named Gippsland’s best. Harrison Pepper (26 disposals) and Josh Dunkley (18) found a good amount of ball on top of hitting the scoreboard, while Brock Smith (24 disposals, seven rebound 50s) and Ryan Sparkes (18 disposals) continued their solid partnership across half-back. Harry Grant had a monster day out as GWS’ best with 31 disposals and two goals, while Liam Delahunty and Lucas Conlan were the other multiple goal kickers. Ball winners Lachlan Squire (26 disposals, Jeromy Lucas (24), and Nicholas Murray (21) also proved important for the Giants in the narrow loss. GWS’ last NAB League fixture comes against Murray in Victoria, with Gippsland returning to home turf in Round 6 to face the in-form Eastern in a top eight clash.

EASTERN RANGES 1.3 | 2.5 | 9.7 | 11.11 (77)
GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.5 | 2.6 (18)

GOALS:

Eastern: B. White 4, J. Rossiter 3, B. Hickleton 2, Z. Pretty, C. Hirst.
Gold Coast: R. Buckland, E. Dawson.

BEST:

Eastern: R. Smith, Z. Pretty, J. Nathan, J. Clarke, L. Stapleton, B. White
Gold Coast: C. Joyce, C. Budarick, M. Pescud , D. Koenen, R. Gilmore, P. Murtagh

Eastern Ranges made it a double demolition of the Northern Academies at Trevor Barker Beach Oval, downing the Gold Coast Suns academy by 59 points to climb into the competition’s top two. After a first-half arm-wrestle ensued, the Ranges broke the game open with a seven-goal to nil third term to set up their fourth-straight win. Three players did the bulk of Eastern’s scoring, with Bailey White claiming an opportunistic bag of four goals in his first game for the year, while Jamieson Rossiter booted 3.3 in a solid marking display and Ben Hickleton chimed in with 2.4. Another player to find the goals, Zak Pretty, amassed a whopping 37 disposals at 70 per cent efficiency to earn the Draft Central player of the week nod, but was beaten out by dominant ruckman Riley Smith (19 disposals, 37 hit-outs) for best-afield honours. Lachlan Stapleton (27 disposals) and Mitch Mellis continued their good form through the middle, with bottom-age prospect Joshua Clarke impressing off half-back with plenty of dash. Ryan Buckland and Ethan Dawson were the Suns’ only goal kickers for the day, with many of their best players employed further afield. Connor Budarick (27 disposals, 16 tackles) continues to shine on the back of hard work, while Corey Joyce and Dirk Koenen were also named in the best for their roles in defence. The Suns head back home next week to face GWV and see out their NAB League cameo, while Eastern faces a tough task in keeping its win-streak alive against Gippsland in Morwell.

CALDER CANNONS 0.1 | 4.6 | 5.10 | 8.11 (59)
GEELONG FALCONS 2.1 | 2.1 | 6.3 | 8.4 (52)

GOALS:

Calder: N. Gentile 3, J. Martin 2, O. Sasalu, M. Simpson, J. Keeping.
Geelong: C. Sprague 2, L. Lloyd 2, C. Seymour, L. Smith, K. Rayner, W. Batson.

BEST:

Calder: B. Newman, D. Mott, N. Gentile, O. Sasalu, S. Ramsay, S. Graham
Geelong: H. Stubbings, S. Christensen, C. Karpala, C. Sprague, S. Bourke, W. Batson

The Calder Cannons were made to earn their second win of the year, leaving Geelong Falcons winless after five rounds with a seven-point victory at RAMS Arena. With the wind favouring one end, the game was ultimately decided by Calder’s dominant second quarter, where the Cannons scored 4.5 while keeping Geelong scoreless to open up a 17-point lead. Despite bridging the gap to a single point heading into the final break, the Falcons were outlasted by the home side, which converted well in the clutch moments in an otherwise hit-and-miss display in front of goal. Ned Gentile (21 disposals, three goals) converted in each of the last three quarters to provide a key hand, while other multiple goal kicker Jacob Martin kicked the deciding goal with seven minutes to play. The game was dominated by Cannons key defender Brodie Newman, who recorded 36 disposals and an incredible 17 marks, while Daniel Mott (29 disposals) continued to build his form and Sam Ramsay (27) was also good. Not all is lost for the Falcons despite being the only full-time NAB League side without a win, with some of their depth players standing up. Over-ager Harry Stubbings was named best for his 20 disposals and nine tackles, with Will Batson (20 disposals, one goal) and Chas Karpala (19 disposals) also amongst it, while Charlie Sprague returned an impressive 18 disposals, six marks, and two goals. Geelong’s search for a win continues on neutral territory in Round 6 against an unbeaten Sydney Academy side, with Calder hosting at RAMS Arena once again against Bendigo.

TASMANIA DEVILS 1.4 | 1.6 | 2.7 | 3.8 (26)
WESTERN JETS 2.0 | 4.3 | 7.8 | 10.13 (73)

GOALS:

Tasmania: T. Penwright, L. Gadomski, I. Chugg.
Western: A. Manton 3, J. Honey 2, E. Ford 2, A. Clarke, C. White, J. Horo.

BEST:

Tasmania: O. Burrows-Cheng, P. Walker, M. McGuinness, B. Gordon, L. Viney, O. Shaw
Western: D. Cassar, K. Borg, J. Kellett, J. Horo, W. Kennedy, L. Rocci

A second-consecutive win sees Western Jets fly into the NAB League top eight, accounting for Tasmania Devils by 47 points on the Apple Isle. With the two sides coming in on eight points apiece, it was the Jets who got the better of an early stalemate – snatching a two-point lead at the first break and never looking back. The travelling side gradually widened the margin as the game went on, kicking no more than three goals in each quarter to build their eventual winning score. While goals were hard to come by for the Devils, they proved competitive up the field but were beaten by a combination of Western’s strength and classy ball winners. Darcy Cassar led the way in the latter department, collecting a game-high 31 disposals (27 kicks, 13 marks) from half-back, while Josh Honey was back to his best with 25 disposals and two goals, and Josh Kellett (18 disposals) also proved effective. Over-ager Will Kennedy (19 disposals, 33 hit-outs) continues to dominate in the ruck, while fellow big-man Aaron Clarke clunked nine marks and Archi Manton converted three goals up forward. For the home side, Oscar Burrows-Cheng was named best for his combative 22 disposals, with Patrick Walker and Bailey Gordon the leading disposal getters (both 25) and debutant Isaac Chugg showing some promising signs. The Devils remain in Tasmania for a clash against Oakleigh at North Hobart Oval next week, while Western has a bye in Round 6.

GWV REBELS 3.3 | 10.6 | 13.9 | 17.10 (112)
NT THUNDER 1.2 | 1.5 | 6.8 | 8.9 (57)

GOALS:

GWV: N. Caris 4, R. Polkinghorne 2, I. Grant 2, M. Lloyd 2, J. Rantall 2, T. Mahony 2, C. Craig-Peters, J. Hill, M. Martin.
NT: T. Woods 3, M. Cumming 2, B. O’Connell 2, J. Lynch.

BEST:

GWV: P. Glanford, C. Craig-Peters, R. Polkinghorne, M. Burgess, J. Rantall, M. Lloyd
NT: B. Jungfer, B. O’Connell, L. Ferreira, S. Cumming, M. Cumming, J. Jeffrey

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels have come away with an easy Round 5 victory, downing Northern Territory Thunder by 55 points at Windy Hill. The venue was aptly named for the conditions as a strong breeze blowing a gale caused for some inaccuracy at times, although both teams seemed well equipped by half-time to deal with the conditions. The Rebels never looked like losing the game, piling on 10 goals to one by half-time and essentially having put a nail in the Thunders’ coffin as they headed into the main break. The Northern Territory coaches told the players that their efforts “now” (in the second half) was what mattered and was within their control, and the visitors answered with three of the first four goals, and five foals to three in the term, to cut the deficit to 43 points by the final break. Any slight hint of a comeback was soon snuffed out within eight and a half minutes as the Rebels piled on four consecutive goals – including two to Izaac Grant – to race away to a 67-point advantage. Two late goals to Beau O’Connell and Matthew Cumming restored the final margin to 55. Patrick Glanford was named the Rebels’ best in the ruck, competing against the bigger-bodied Stephen Cumming, while Cooper Craig-Peters and Riley Polkinghorne were among nine individual goalkickers. Nick Caris led the way with four majors, while Polkinghorne, Grant, Jay Rantall, Toby Mahony and Matty Lloyd all booted two apiece. For the Thunder, Tyson Woods kicked three goals all within 15 metres, while Matthew Cumming managed two majors, as did O’Connell. The small mid-forward was a standout for the Thunder, working hard on the outside with Ben Jungfer doing the heavy lifting on the inside. Down back, Joel Jeffrey had some highlight reel moments with high leaps and terrific intercept marks.

Team of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 4

WESTERN Jets’ impressive win over Northern Territory has seen them rewarded with the most players in the Draft Central NAB League Boys’ Team of the Week for Round 4. Five Jets have made the side comprised of the seven full-time teams in the NAB League Boys competition. The Jets had one more than other winner,  Eastern Ranges and narrow loser Tasmania, while Calder Cannons, Sandringham Dragons and Northern Knights had three players each. Oakleigh Chargers were well beaten by Gold Coast, and had just the two players make the Team of the Week.

Western Jets’ Aaron Clarke makes the team for a second consecutive week at centre-half forward, joined in the side by teammates, Josh Kellett, Jonah Horo, Daly Andrews and Will Kennedy. The latter crossed from Sandringham Dragons and is one of three rucks in the side with Sandringham’s Riley Bowman – who ironically also changed sides from Dandenong Stingrays – and Northern Knights’ Nathan Howard. Nick Burke slots into the side at half-back for another Dragon representative, while Angus Hanrahan has been named at half-forward. Also in the side from the Knights is consistent midfielder, Sam Philp and overager, Sunny Brazier.

Eastern Ranges had four players named in the team with Joshua Clarke, Chayce Black, Ben Hickleton and Salele Feagaimalii all impressing in the win over Brisbane Lions Academy. Tasmania lost to Calder but had four players named with defenders, Nicholas Baker, Oscar Shaw and Patrick Walker all finding plenty of it, while Jackson Callow looms as a top prospect for the future, named at centre-half forward once again. Calder had the three players named in the team themselves with Jacob Martin in the back pocket, Harrison Minton-Connell in the middle and Ned Gentile also in the squad of 24. To round out the side, Oakleigh overager Joe Ayton-Delaney sits on a wing, joined in the team by Kaden Schreiber who also stood up in an otherwise disappointing day for the Chargers.

NAB League Boys Round 4 wash-up: SUNS shine in NAB League Boys

THE NAB League ladder has a new leader after all the action from Round 4, as three Northern Academy sides got the better of their Victorian Metropolitan counterparts. With Tasmania also picking up a win, it was a good weekend to be an interstater, albeit with the Victorian sides depleted on the back of trial games.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.2 | 5.4 | 5.6 | 7.9 (51)
GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 3.3 | 4.5 | 8.13 | 10.17 (77)

By: Cameron Ross

GOALS:
Northern:
C. Barbera, L. Mcmahon, S. Brazier, L. Waldron, J. Boyd, N. Howard, O. Simpson
GWS: L. Delahunty 3, L. Conlan 2, J. Lucas 2, M. Hamblin, J. Peatling, S. Driscoll

BEST
Northern:
N. Howard, S. Philp, C. Barbera, A. Taylor, E. Macpherson, S. Brazier
GWS: M. McGrory, J. Lucas, J. Peatling, L. Delahunty, S. Driscoll, H. Grant

GWS Giants Academy travelled to Melbourne this weekend to take on the Northern Knights at Trevor Barker Beach Oval. This first quarter was hotly contested. The Giants shot out of the blocks in the first two minutes, when James Peating won a holding the ball decision directly in front and goaled. The Knights fought back and after Sunny Brazier goaled from a snap shot, they started to gain some momentum. Ruckman Nathan Howard was dominant in the first quarter, giving the Knights first use, yet he was equally impressive around the ground. A serious knee injury to Lucas Perry caused a significant delay, as the young Knight writhed in pain. Both teams were visibly shaken as the midfielder was stretchered off the field. The Giants kicked two late goals – Lucas Conlan from a tight angle and then Liam Delahunty who goaled with only a minute remaining to give the Giants a seven-point advantage into the first break. The second quarter was owned by the Knights – they had most of the possession, and took advantage of it. Ruckman Howard continued on from his fine first quarter by kicking a late goal. GWS’s Tom Green was outstanding for the Giants. The big bodied midfielder kept his side in the match, winning clearances and contested possessions, and at half time GWS were only down by five points.

The Giants flew out of the blocks in the second half. Green started where he left off, winning four possessions, two centre clearances and a goal assist in the first two minutes. The final five minutes of the third quarter changed the match. Knights could barely get their hands on the footy, as Green and Peatling took over. Jeromy Lucas kicked two goals in the final minute, and the Giants had put the game to bed. The Knights who had been in this game up until midway through the third were nearly broken. The Knights started the fourth quarter well after an early Ollie Simpson goal, but they still needed to find four more in under 20 minutes of play. Sure enough, only a minute later, Lorne Waldron took a contested mark directly in front but missed what would have been a momentous goal. The Knights continued to find opportunities to win the game but missed a further two convertible chances in the next two minutes. A terrible turnover from GWS across goal gave Cooper Barbera another opportunity, but when he missed also, it was clear that it wasn’t going to be the Knights day. The Knights had most of the possession in the final quarter, but the Giants kicked two late goals to finish off the game as 26-point victors. Green was the best player on the field with 31 possessions, while Howard did everything he could for the Knights. GWS play the Gippsland Power at Blacktown in Round 5, while the Knights head to the QEO in Bendigo to take on the Pioneers.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 2.3 | 5.5 | 7.9 | 12.11 (83)
SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY 5.1 | 10.4 | 14.6 | 16.9 (105)

By: Alex Gibson

GOALS:
Sandringham:
K. Yorke 3, A. Hanrahan 2, J. Florent 2, A. Perkins 2, H. Loughnan, L. Garnaut, R. Bowman
Sydney: B. Campbell 4, H. Maguire 3, T. Tyson 2, S. Thorne 2, H. Ellem 2, E. Gulden, K. McGrath, A. Watling

BEST:
Sandringham:
N. Burke, R. Bowman, J. Le Grice , J. Castan, A. Perkins, K. Yorke
Sydney: H. Ellem, N. Brewer, B. Campbell, L. Parks, A. Watling, S. Thorne

With the ongoing Vic trials, 14 changes were made for the Sandringham side which faced a classy Swans Academy outfit. Sydney’s pressure from the outset was immense, led by Samuel Thorne (21 disposals, two goals) and Harrison Parker (seven tackles) allowing the Swans to get the early jump on the ladder leaders. Sandringham from there on had to play catch up footy and on ball duo Angus Hanrahan (29 disposals, two goals) and Bill Mackay (21 disposals) did their best for the Dragons, however it was no match for the Swans who laid 22 more tackles for the match. The new look Sandringham forward line consisted of youth and rawness which consequently lacked a strong solid target in Charlie Dean’s absence, which hurt the Dragons all day. In contrast, the Swans big forwards dominated the second term thanks to Josh Maguire (three goals) and Hamish Ellem (two goals) who were able to control the forward 50 as the Swans lead extended to 29 points heading into the main break. It was a better second half for the Dragons as ruckman Riley Bowman (40 hitouts) was able to get on top, however bottom-ager Errol Gulden (26 disposals, two goals) took the game away from the Dragons with his classy left boot. In a game that tested Sandringham’s depth, they were able to remain competitive all day with their youth showing good signs but they were outplayed by the Swans big bodies which eventuated in a 22-point victory for Sydney who remain undefeated.

GOLD COAST ACADEMY 1.3 | 6.4 | 10.8 | 14.11 (95)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 1.1 | 2.2 | 3.4 | 3.6 (24)

By: Michael Alvaro

GOALS:
Gold Coast:
P. Murtagh 2, E. Dawson 2, M. Selsby 2, J. Gore 2, M. Conroy, C. Budarick, H. Oea, A. Davies, E. Semaan, R. Nicholls
Oakleigh: M. Steiner 2, J. Robertson

BEST:
Gold Coast:
C. Budarick, C. Joyce, A. Davies, H. Oea, J. Gore, D. Koenen
Oakleigh: J. Woodfull, K. Schreiber, J. Ayton-Delaney, H. Mastras, B. Jepson, R. McInnes

Gold Coast SUNS Academy became the third non-Victorian side to pick up four points on the weekend, opening Sunday’s Queensland double-header with a 71-point win over Oakleigh. The Chargers came in heavily depleted like most of their fellow metro sides, but it didn’t show early as they battled well in an even first term. It was all Gold Coast from thereon though, as the Suns pulled away to a 26-point half time lead. With eight goals to one, it was more of the same in a dominant second half from the home side as they pushed to claim top spot at round’s end. Connor Budarick again had a day out, leading the Suns with 28 disposals, eight marks, eight tackles and a goal, while Corey Joyce and Ashton Crossley won the ball well with 22 possessions apiece. Josh Gore could have had a huge game, claiming 2.5 from his 20 disposals as one of four Suns multiple goal kickers, with Mark Steiner booting two of Oakleigh’s three goals for the match. Chargers over-ager and 2018 Vic Metro representative Joe Ayton-Delaney (26 disposals) was influential through midfield alongside Kaden Schreiber (24, seven marks, five clearances), but both were beaten to being named best by ruckman Jacob Woodfull who managed five clearances from 15 disposals. With two losses on the trot, Oakleigh will look to bounce back after the break against Dandenong, while Gold Coast is set to face another metro side in Eastern as its NAB League stint edges over the half-way mark.

TASMANIA DEVILS 0.1 | 5.1 | 8.1 | 10.3 (63)
CALDER CANNONS 0.1 | 1.4 | 3.6 | 7.9 (51)

By: Michael Alvaro

GOALS:
Tasmania:
J. Callow 4, J. Hennessy 2, J. Menzie, W. Peppin, P. Walker, R. Mansell
Calder: C. Brand 3, M. Fletcher 2, H. Minton-Connell, J. Sutton

BEST:
Tasmania:
J. Callow, O. Shaw, J. Chaplin, R. Ashlin, L. Gadomski, J. Steele
Calder: H. Minton-Connell, N. Gentile, J. Martin, M. Simpson, K. Baker, S. Callander

Tasmania Devils ground out its second win on the trot, prevailing 10.3 (63) to 7.9 (51) against Calder in its first NAB League appearance on home turf. After a slow burn in the first term with the sides only managing a behind each, the Devils kicked away in the next stanza with five goals to one to set up a game-winning lead, slowly extending it to 25 points at the final change. While Calder stood up to win the fourth quarter, it was all too little, too late as the hosts held on to a two-goal final margin. Jackson Callow was the standout Devil with another bag of goals to amass almost half of his side’s total, while Oscar Shaw spread well to reel in 12 uncontested marks from 17 disposals. Patrick Walker and Nicholas Baker were the key ball-winners with 24 disposals apiece, while usual suspect Mitch O’Neill was a little quieter than usual with 16. For Calder, Cody Brand booted all three of his season goals at once, while Mason Fletcher joined him as a multiple goal kicker as he was thrown forward. Harrison Minton-Connell was the visitors’ best with a game-high 26 disposals and eight clearances, and could have had a bigger game had he made better of his 1.3. Crashing back down to earth after last week’s win, the Cannons face a winless Geelong side next time out, while Tasmania will hope to continue its winning run as it does battle with Western.

BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY 3.0 | 5.1 | 11.1 | 12.3 (75)
EASTERN RANGES 4.4 | 6.7 | 8.7 | 13.8 (86)

By: Michael Alvaro

GOALS:
Brisbane:
B. Coleman 4, T. Wischnat 3, N. Cumberland 3, D. Marsh, T. Abberley
Eastern: B. Hickleton 3, S. Mason 2, C. Black 2, S. Feagaimalii 2, J. Tilly, J. Clarke, C. Weightman, J. Jaworski

BEST:
Brisbane:
T. Jeffrey, W. Martyn, C. Michael, C. Stackelberg, B. Coleman
Eastern: S. Feagaimalii, J. Clarke, J. Duffy, B. Hickleton, J. Gilbee

An fighting final term turnaround saw Eastern Ranges earn its third-consecutive win, overcoming the Brisbane Lions academy by 11 points in Southport. Having broken to a 12-point half-time lead, the Ranges were reigned in quickly thereafter as the hosts booted six goals to two to steer clear heading into the final break, but the Ranges turned the two-goal deficit almost completely around as the heavens opened to snatch an unlikely victory. Eastern bottom-ager Salele Feagaimalii had an blinder, taking full advantage of playing full-time midfield to rack up 28 disposals, seven clearances and two clutch final-quarter goals as his side’s best. Fellow 17-year old Joshua Clarke also stood up when it mattered, slotting the goal of the day on the run from 50 as part of his 21 disposals, while Chayce Black was dangerous early up forward, ending with 2.3 behind Ben Hickleton‘s 3.0. For the Lions, Blake Coleman claimed a game-high four goals from his nine disposals, with Tom Wischnat (19 disposals, 3.2) to thank for two of them, while Noah Cumberland also claimed three majors. Skipper Will Martyn lifted from last week’s performance to rack up an impressive 37 disposals and 12 marks, while former-captain Cody Stackleberg was influential with 26 touches and seven inside 50s. With Eastern locked into the top four, a game against another Queensland academy awaits, while Brisbane will look for a second win in its away clash against Sandringham.

WESTERN JETS 3.8 | 9.14 | 12.19 | 18.24 (132)
NORTHERN TERRITORY THUNDER 4.3 | 5.4 | 8.7 | 9.7 (61)

GOALS:
Western:
A. Clarke 4, S. El-Hawli 3, C. White 3, C. Mackenzie-George 2, A. Manton 2, L. Failli, S. Clifford, L. Conway, J. Horo
Northern Territory: T. Woods 3, B. Ah Mat 3, W. Derksen, S. Cumming, B. O’Connell

BEST:
Western:
J. Horo, A. Clarke, D. Bolkas, C. White, D. Andrews , W. Kennedy
Northern Territory: M. McGregor, T. Woods, B. Ah Mat, B. Jungfer, S. Cumming, J. Stevens

The Western Jets picked up their second win for the NAB League season, closing out the round with a thumping 71-point win over Northern Territory Thunder. After the travelling side broke to a narrow quarter-time lead, the Jets flicked a switch and piled on 15 goals from 31 scoring shots for the remainder of the game to come out as dominant winners. Jets spearhead Aaron Clarke was again amongst the goals, leading group of five multiple goal kickers with 4.6 in what could have been a huge outing. Fellow tall Will Kennedy was also dominant, leading his side’s disposal count alongside Daly Andrews with 25, while also having 28 hitouts and five clearances. For NT, Tyson Woods and Braxton Ahmat each booted three goals, with Marly McGregor (17 disposals, five clearances) named their best despite Brandon Rusca‘s 25-disposal effort. The winless NT academy will again play in Melbourne, facing the GWV Rebels at Windy Hill, with Western travelling to Tasmania to face the Devils after the Easter break.

Weekend preview: NAB League Boys – Round 1

TOMORROW marks the start of a new era in Victorian Under 18 Boys football, with the brand new NAB League Boys competition kicking off. A standalone game at MARS Stadium begins the first round, before a spread of matches across Victoria on Sunday will provide plenty of highlights for the 2019 draft crop.

 

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 1 – 23/03/2019
3:00pm
Mars Stadium – Ballarat

The standalone game on Saturday afternoon pits the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels against reigning premiers, Dandenong Stingrays. The game marks the second consecutive match the Rebels have played against the Stingrays, having been on the receiving end of a belting in last year’s elimination final. The Stingrays have made some changes with a new coach and talent manager coming into the fold, while also losing a fair chunk of their premiership side. They will now rely on a lot of bottom-agers as well as some talented top-agers who featured in parts throughout the 2018 season. Led by top prospect, Hayden Young, the Stingrays have a solid team across the board with last year’s co-catain Mitch Riordan slotting into the centre for this match, and the likes of overager Jai Nanscawen and Luca Goonan also named there, while Sam Merrick – who tested well at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day on a wing. It will largely be a new-look side both on an off the field for the Stingrays, while for the Rebels, they have a large among of players who tasted plenty of football last year. The midfield contains overager, Matty Lloyd who is looking at a new inside role, as well as some silky top-agers in Mitch Martin and Isaac Wareham, the inside ability of Cooper Craig-Peters and bottom-age talent, Nick Stevens. Fellow overagers, James Cleaver and Jed Hill provide some good run up either end, while the ruck duel between Patrick Glanford and Bailey Schmidt will be one to watch. The Stingrays deserve to be favourites, having the wood over the Rebels the past few years, but with so much change, it is as good a time as any for the home team to grab much needed points in the opening round.

 

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 1 – 24/03/2019
10:00am
RSEA Park – Moorabbin

The next day at RSEA Park, Sandringham Dragons face Calder Cannons in the first of a Metro double header at the ground. The Dragons are stacked with talent across the board and will be one of the teams to beat this season. The Dragons’ spine of Corey Watts, Fischer McAsey, Jack Mahony, Charlie Dean and Riley Bowman looks ominous, while a midfield containing Ryan Byrnes, Finn Magginness and Josh Worrell will match it with the best. For the Cannons, captain Brodie Newman holds down half-back with overager Tye Browning, while the athletic Thomas Cartwright has been named at full-back. The Cannons midfield is a strength with Daniel Mott, Sam Graham and Harrison Minton-Connell named in the middle. Josh Kemp is an exciting prospect who while overage, is still only in his second year in the system. There is no doubt the Cannons have a massive challenge on their hands here against a full-strength Dragons outfit. Winning the midfield battle is crucial and backing themselves to match Sandringham’s run is the challenge, while the Dragons will be keen to win in the first game at their new home in Moorabbin.

 

EASTERN RANGES v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Round 1 – 24/03/2019
12:30pm
RSEA Park – Moorabbin

In the second match of the double header, Eastern Ranges take on a full-strength Oakleigh Chargers which is a huge challenge for the Ranges. A year more experienced with the likes of Mitch Mellis, Lachlan Stapleton and Chayce Black in the middle, captain James Ross, Todd Garner and Jarrod Gilbee in defence, and Billy McCormack and Jamieson Rossiter in attack, Eastern has a solid side on paper. Overagers, Cody Hirst and James Blanck will play key roles in the side, but they will all need to be at their best to topple the might of the Chargers. Nick Bryan heads up the ruck and will look to get first hands to Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell and Joe Ayton-Delaney who moves into a more contested role this year. Dylan Williams and former Rebel, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan provide excitement up forward, while Trent Bianco and Will Phillips use the ball well coming down the ground. The top-end talent and depth is clearly there for the Chargers and is a key reason why they are arguably the team to beat this season along with Sandringham and Gippsland, of whom all three are well represented in the AFL Academy.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. GIPPSLAND POWER

Round 1 – 24/03/2019
1:00pm
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

The second all-country clash of the weekend occurs at RAMS Arena in Craigieburn where Murray Bushrangers meet Gippsland Power. The Power are one of the contenders this season and look to be the top country team for season 2019. Coming off a preliminary final, albeit with a disappointing exit in the end, the large proportion of bottom-agers who steered the team to such a successful season are now top-agers and have the extra year of experience. For the Bushrangers, they also have their fair share of talented bottom-agers and should be the country side most likely to give Gippsland a run for its money. For Muray, its dynamic forward line will cause headaches, which in the past has been dominated by talls, but is more likely to be the hybrid-medium-smalls who create some issues for opposition defenders. Jye ChalcraftCam Wilson and Elijah Hollands can be damaging at ground level while Will Chandler provides some height up forward, and the match-ups with Jake van der Pligt, Brock Smith, Ryan Sparkes and Tye Hourigan will be the ones to watch. Leo Connolly, Fraser Phillips and Sam Flanders going head-to-head with the likes of Jimmy Boyer, Dylan Clarke and Cam Wild will be another interesting battle, while Josh Smith and Ben Kelly could go head-to-head in the Power forwad line. While Gippsland are missing key midfielder Caleb Serong, expect them to get the job done in what could be a thrilling contest to open the season.

 

GEELONG FALCONS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

Round 1 – 24/03/2019
2:00pm
Colac Football Ground – Colac

A couple of teams with unknowns about them face-off in Colac, as Geelong Falcons host Bendigo Pioneers. The Falcons have a lot of new players in their side, while the Pioneers are always a young team. With many of the names getting games last year, the Pioneers should feel some line-up consistency for round 1. High-flyers, Braydon Vaz and Will Wallace hold down the key defensive posts for the Pioneers, while Brodie Kemp, Thomson Dow and Riley Ironside all fill out the midfield. They will have to battle top talent, Cooper Stephens, as well as overage forward-turned-midfielder, Charlie Sprague and Charlie Harris. Jesse Clark will look to provide some run and carry out of a new-look defence in 2019, while the likes of Jay Dahlhaus and Charlie Lazzaro are ever-dangerous inside 50. The Falcons given their record and form late last year, including from some of their bottom-agers in 2018, will have them heading in as favourites, but Bendigo could well take home the points given the majority of their line-up – minus Flynn Perez who is out with an ACL and a couple of others like Matt Hird – is able to play.

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. WESTERN JETS

Round 1 – 24/03/2019
3:40pm
Ikon Park – Carlton

The final game of the round heads to Ikon Park where the Knights and Jets go head-to-head in what could be a battle of the two most improved sides heading into this year. Last year the Jets made the finals but were bundled out in the elimination final, while the Knights had a disapponting loss to GWV Rebels the week before in the Wild Card round. Both teams are capable of creating scoring opportunities, as Josh D’Intinosante and Darcy Cassar were a couple of the more dangerous half-forwards last season. Emerson Jeka will start at centre half-forward and no doubt be the main target inside 50, while Eddie Ford and Josh Honey know where the goals are. Daly Andrews is a handy overager to return to the side, while Spencer Johnson and Josh Kellett will come out of defence. The Knights’ bottom-agers were among the top players last season, and Nathan Howard will take up the ruck duties, while Adam Crafa, Sam Philp and Sunny Brazier will use their bigger bodies to try and outmuscle the Jets midfield. Ryan Gardner, Lachlan Potter and Ryan Sturgess will move the ball in transition, while former Sandringham Dragon, Will Kennedy and Aaron Clarke are two Jets who will look to stretch the Knights when forward.

AFL Draft preview: Hawthorn

HAWTHORN has the weakest draft hand in the league after trading some of their picks for ready-made players such as Chad Wingard in the hope of staying at the top of table. But with an ageing list, Hawthorn will be looking to inject some more speed and another key forward to help-out Jarryd Roughead into their side.

List needs:

  • Key forward
  • Defensive small forward

Draft selection: 53, 90

Entering into the draft at pick 53 Hawthorn will be hoping to acquire a key forward who will be able to help out in their attacking 50. It will depend who is available but if the likes of Will Kennedy and Dillon O’Reilly are still there they will be a valuable asset to the Hawks. Both Kennedy and O’Reilly have a good goal sense, strong hands and an ability to read the flight of the ball. Though it might take some time for them to fully develop and compete at AFL level they have plenty of upside and will be a good inclusion for the Hawks. Other possibilities for Hawthorn is Hugo Munn or Murray Bushrangers forward Hudson Garoni who has proved he can be a handful to maintain up forward.

If by some chance Bailey Williams slides he will be hot on Hawthorns list with his silky skills, gut running and impressive ability to hit the scoreboard. Williams has strong hands under pressure taking plenty of contested grabs and has proven his versatility spending some time in the ruck.

Next Generation Academy member Irving Mosquito has given Hawthorn fans plenty to be excited about with comparisons between cult hero Cyril Rioli. Mosquito has plenty of speed to burn and is deadly around the goals with his quick and clean hands and ability to get into damaging positions. The Gippsland Power player is lively across the ground and applies plenty of pressure to trap the ball inside attacking 50. He would be a great pick up for the Hawks who will be looking to replace the likes of livewire Rioli and the ageing Paul Puopolo who is coming into the twilight of his career.